Album: just 3 organs
Publication: TOUCHING EXTREMES (source)
Date: 05/01/2008

First question: is this an allusion to Steve Reich “Four Organs”? For sure the music is neither minimal, nor very accessible. Alright, a few sequenced arpeggios might recall a peg-legged version of Philip Glass, but what the hey. Let’s put this factor aside.

Second question: is three really the perfect number? All the things heard in this CD derive from multiples of 3 and the reason should not be explained (learn to read the liners, at least when Frank Rothkamm is the person who wrote them). Suffice to say that this music took its shape from a peculiar tuning system and even stranger reproduction methods.

How does it sound? Oh, god.

I thought that by now I had figured out Rothkamm’s artistic mind, just a little bit of course. Instead he slams the doors of comprehension shut right in front of me, and one has to peep through the keyhole to get a grasp of what’s in there.

For starters, a Yamaha Electone 205D is the source. The composer bought it in 2002 in Hollywood, thus making possible a reprise of his first contact with the same inspiration in 1979, while he was on a mountain vacation in Switzerland and found an out-of-tune church organ in a small village’s chapel. As an indirect homage to that circumstance, the timbre of this Yamaha is - ahem - cheap. The tuning (“a micro-tonal 33 cents apart” - take this, lovers of well-tempered harpsichords) certifies that the improvisations (are they?) are perceived as a cross of experimental entanglement and hoity-toity unwillingness to let many participants in. Which is, as always, better. The tracks are mostly on the short side, an additional puzzling element. No continuity, no boredom.

Enigmatically unpigeonholeable stuff from the man who loves to smirk from postcards, to be pick-pocketed from the purse of ignorant oblivion.

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