Album: LAX
Author: darren bergstein
Publication: e|i
Date: 10/10/2007

Run through a battery of modules, software, numerous processors and their respective interfaces, Frank Rothkamm seeks to make explicit in his sonic mock-ups of LAX the metaphors he postulates on the booklet’s hypertext liners. It’s a shaky construct to begin with, aurally and narratively—Rothkamm’s notes beggar tenuous suppositions between the “parallel” realities of Los Angeles’s stressed-out transportation system while simultaneously attempting to erect their doppelgangers in sound. A dubious undertaking, LAX ironically smacks of its own Hollywoodian “high concept”, especially since Rothkamm’s analogic is questionable, the text often reading like spurious silicon-age jabberwocky. Of prominent concern is the music itself, which fares marginally better. Rothkamm’s previous recordings suggested there was a unique new experimentalist in town, but the lackluster ideas scattered within LAX are much too inert to warrant concentrated listening. Stripped of context, a good chunk of the ten shortish pieces here recall the primetime of 50s fantastic cinema and 60s electronic academia—“Still Random Or Burial of Music” could have been an outtake from the Barron’s Forbidden Planet soundtrack, replete with the paroxysms of id monsters stomping across barren alien planetscapes. Rothkamm’s skill is undeniable, but little here is truly memorable; sketchy and indistinct, the various sawtooth waveforms, radar pings, coarse frequency pulsations, and gnarled machine ambience are innocuous at best, pedestrian at worst. Certainly far less inspired recordings are clogging the body electronic, yet Rothkamm’s laudable mimesis is unable to provide the thrust needed for lift-off.

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