Album: just 3 organs
Author: Joel Hedrick
Publication: Cyclic Defrost
In 1979 the then 13-year-old Frank Rothkamm snuck into a church whilst skiing his way down a Swiss mountainside. Inside he stumbled across an immense, old and out-of-tune organ upon which he attempted to play a fugue by Bach from memory. Once finished he slid back out to the snowfields and down to the valley below. He never played an organ again. But, in 2002 he spotted a Yamaha Electone organ, remembered that fateful fugue and soon began working on his own compositions.
For this mini-album (“33 minutes, 33 seconds of music, played with 3 times 2 hands and feet“) Rothkamm has devised a tuning system that sets each of his three organs at 33 cents apart from each other and runs through a series of series of slightly unhinged keyboard experiments.
The organs at times seem to be acting independently of each other, as though they are being improvised on from different recordings taking from different rooms. Bass chords swell and drift and are stabbed at by off-centre tones from the higher registered organs. Through “California Pink-A-Pades”, Riley-esque loops and equations are made to spin and be sucked out as though they were some bright-sparkling UFO signal. But the ideas are too unfocussed, the tuning too warped for anything other than just weird tones wobbling out of your speakers. Thankfully Rothkamm has spent most of his time fleshing out and recording his best ideas. “Sleepy Bullet” gives fleeting glimpses of skewed classical figures in kinda odd harpsichord fun-fair and also allows for the sounds of the foot-pedals and keys being depressed to occasionally appear and eventually become the final section of the track.
But generally the sounds of the organs are too tacky and out-dated and Rothkamm has a lot of trouble helping his instruments to carry any effectual tonal weight. This, despite that fact that almost every note in his freaky, freaky organ bag is used up and used up alright.
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