Album: FB03
Author: S:M:J63
Publication: HEATHEN HARVEST (source)
Date: 02/24/2008

This is the third instalment in the FBO series of ‘supermodern electronic music’ and as this is the first I have actually heard I cannot speak for the creation as a whole, but certainly this has whet the appetite to hear the whole work in a single sitting. Rothkamm is Frank Holger Rothkamm, originally from Gutersloh in Germany and now firmly ensconced in New York (via Canada) and for all the arthouse seriousness and highbrow philosophizing on the sleeve notes he possesses a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour – how else can you interpret otherwise when he lists his influences as, among others, ‘…Immanuel Kant, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Liberace…’ – now THAT would be a Vegas show I would donate a couple of vital organs to see! (To see Stockhausen in a spangley Lurex suit would be worth it in itself…)…

The music was recorded using a Yamaha FBO1 FM Sound Generator that was once owned by Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult and bought off Ebay for a mere $26 and in that fact alone there is an inherent humorous irony i.e. that the populist music it was once used to produce has now been replaced by an avant-gard aesthetic of ‘difficult’ and complex tonality & high art. The music moves up the evolutionary scale from the simplistic and ‘primitive’ of “Ancient Meats” and finds its apotheosis in the microtonal complexity of a future humanity in “Odyssey I 70” – the last is based on a ‘superhuman 768-notes-per-octave scale’ which certainly no human of the present day that I know of has the ability to distinguish between and it will indeed need a superhuman ear to discern all the subtleties inherent in such a piece. Interspersed between each main ‘episode’ is a series of six-second interludes consisting of random bleeps. For all the apparent random bleeps, buzzes, drones, atonality and other assorted electronic noises there’s a fierce intelligence behind it all coupled with that sense of humour mentioned above and there’s no doubt that each episode is carefully constructed, engineered & detailed and although I am not a Stockhausen aficionado by any means (having heard very few pieces by him) I can certainly hear his influence pervading Rothkamm’s compositions based on what little I HAVE heard – not sure where the Liberace bit comes in though.

These pieces can be construed as a possible end-point of musical evolution taken to its logical conclusion but if one can wade through the CD sleeve’s art-house philosophical musings and writings used to underpin the album’s creation one can discern a playfulness here that’s quite entrancing – witness for instance the four versions of himself as the Rothkamm Quartet on the CD cover and referred to in the liner notes. Not having heard the previous outings in the series I cannot comment on how it has evolved over the course of the three albums, whether the evolutionary trends heard on the microcosm of the one album is reflected in the macrocosm of the trilogy, but as a standalone album I found it an interesting exercise in applying my critical faculties in an area I am unfamiliar with which is no bad thing in itself. Certainly it was a lot less challenging and a lot more enjoyable to listen to than I feared and will bear fruit for me in repeated hearings, a privilege that I won’t afford to a great deal many other albums that come my way – that could in itself be taken as a recommendation to go and check this disc out…

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