Incident Outside Mesquite

If you’re anything like me, few things excite you. But one thing definitely in the exciting camp is music that raises more questions than it answers. The artist is composer, performer, computer programmer, Frank Rothkamm who is known under eight different pseudonyms. On this CD release he’s simply referred to as Rothkamm. Photos of the artist are, shall we say, arty (is that silver lamiae underwear he’s wearing on the album cover?). The album is FB01, after Yamaha’s petite digital synth module that hit the market in the mid ’80s. I’m sad to report that I actually remember wanting one of the little black boxes when they made the pages of Keyboard magazine. Anyway, if you can get through Rothkamm’s heady manifesto, you learn that he uses these then digital-newborns as his main instrument of choice in creating music “with no imitational reference to any thing in the empirical world…axiomatic during execution in time and space.” From such lofty goals comes lofty music.



The sound of the disc is predictably retro, but just below the Jurassic hi-tech sheen there’s a virtual neural net of compositional or anti-compositional processes in place. The result is some truly unique digital music, sapping with an air of sci-fi. And like a whiff of coffee beans or a cracker to clear the palate, a brief, less-than-a-second-long R2D2-like belch of rapid sine tones cleans out the ears, not only between compositions on the CD, but also as you first enter and finally exit the album. Back into the real world you go.


—RN