Album: Moers Works
Author: Prenna Unsane
Publication: Heathen Harvest
Frank Rothkamm is a musical genius. This is not just an opinion based on listening to this CD. Mr. Rothkamm began composing music for piano at the age of 12. Unhappy with the limitations of the instrument he decided to design his own electronic music system, which he did at aged 16, using only a turntable, a shortwave radio, a phaser, an EQ, a cassette recorder, and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. This system is what was used to create the sounds on this CD.
As the first tracks play through, I can't help wondering how these recordings didn't end up becoming classics in the early Industrial and post-industrial scene. These pieces could easily stand side by side with early Coil, Nurse With Wound, and similar artists.
There's an eerie yet hypnotic feel running all the way through this CD. It starts with the creepy organ and echoing samples of album opener Ich and continues throughout the album. The three minutes of Klavier are beautiful and gentle washes of sound, especially contrasted with the following track Quartett, which was commissioned as an overture for a play. Quartett could be straight out of a David Lynch movie. Kurzwelle is a very subtle track with it's Arabic (I think) voice sample, shortwave radio squeal, and minimal manipulation by the composer. The real stand out track for me, and not just for the fact that it is the longest, is Rauschmittel. Right from the start of this twelve and a half minute track, it conveys a sinister, dream-like, cabaret or carnivale feel, before breaking into distorted voices, sounds of wretching, screaming, heavy breathing, and manipulated piano. It's like a twelve minute journey through a fairground funhouse that turns out to be an asylum. The constant background electronica helps to carry the listener through the madness.
For me this album strikes the perfect balance between the experimental "sound art" of the music academics and the sinister and evocative elements of the old school Industrial artists. It's also a pretty inspiring thought to consider that music this good was made on such basic equipment. This is Mr Rothkamms earliest experiments so I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of his work, which apparently includes chamber music and pop arrangements. I think many Heathen Harvest readers would get a lot of enjoyment out of this release.
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