Album: ALT
Author: Vito Camarretta
Publication: Chain D.L.K.
Date: 9/5/2011

One of the most enigmatic and prolific conceptual artist and philopher - as he’s considered the progenitor of some aesthetical ideas such as supermodernism, and IFORMM, acronym for (intuitive|improvised) (future|forth) oriented (retrograde|realtime) (motion|music) (music|machine), a sort of self-explanatory aesthetical idea…- , the German-born - but currently living in the former Wilshare Royale hotel, a 20ies dismissed building rich in panache in Los Angeles - Frank Holger Rothkamm chalks up another release fostering the mysterious and sometimes inscrutable aura around its character, but after many sound explorations including bizarre works between snooty academic-like austerity even if often peppered with kitsch elements (such as the FB series issued by Flux Records) and a certain sense of humour (i.e. the funny bunch of piano variations in Opus Spongebobicum), he decides to collect some fuzzy oddities he grabbed from his beloved analogue machines. Although Frank Rothkamm works on a limited palette of sounds, it’s not so correct to say ALT, released by the excellent French label Baskaru, is a microtonal ensemble as it’s decidedly more accessible and less “elitist” than his previous albums.

The role of the composer seems to be limited to the booting of self-feeding iterative processes and by his own admittance Rothkamm acts just as a sprinkle for subsequent fire! The premise is to create a sort of what he calls an “infinity machine” in order to experience an infinite process in a finite amount of time: it’s like the composer inject some starting tones and a generally triadic tonal sequence, reprising its vision of the theorized tri-fold unity of tuning, synthesis and instrument partially reflected in the funny choice to entitle its track with a 3-letter code, whose meaning is sometimes clear (such as the subtonal LOW or GUI, one of the rare track in which there’s a sign of melody created from a guitar sample of Max Laesser), sometimes quite obscure and almost esoteric. Then it seems the machine turns knobs and adjusts pitches by its own! I’ll guess ALT could be just a sampling exhibition of analogue synths close to the “historical” one recently released by Benge aka Ben Edwards on Expanding if I could ignore its author, so that ALT is more like a compendium to unveil Rothkammian mistery, but it ends to embody another enigma amplified by symbolic tricks and numerological games you could find in the track titles, their durations along a total timing of 39 minutes and 39 seconds and compositions as well. You could ask yourself if Herr Rothkamm looks like more the wittiest follower of Wilson’s modus operandi or shares the same metaphysical-logical vision by Leibnitz in order to traduce it into sound.

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