Author: Rigobert Dittmann
Publication: Bad Alchemy
For Amerika (2010), the headstone of TETRALOGY, Rothkamm plays a 1954 Wurlitzer Spinet Piano.
After an "Overture" with a real edge that reminds me of Charles Ives, follow very free variations of 4 well-known pieces. The spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" may be good for an universal deep sigh, but originates in America's recent past as an Apartheid state. Hardly recognizable, it sounds as if Rothkamm would recommend to motherless children cobble stones instead of prayers.
"The Band Played On", written 1895 by John F. Palmer & Charles B. Ward, was so popular that sparrows could sing from rooftops the first line "Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde", which in 1941 became the title of a movie by Raoul Walsh starring Rita Hayworth as the eponymous strawberry-blonde heroine. Rothkamm transforms even this romantic small-town comedy into a grotesque of national scope and he charges the verse "Well, his brain was so loaded It nearly exploded The poor girl would shake with alarm" so explosively and alarmed as if were about quite a different matter. How? By sounding sometime like Ligeti improvised, and then again as tactile as a holy relationship.
By Edward Elgar"s "Pomp und Circumstance" the martial undertone matching Othello's "the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, ... Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!" exactly provides the leaf that Rothkamm rips to pieces. Simply by un-pomping the pomp, and converting the march into an elegy.
"You're in the Army Now" also was eponymous for a Jimmy Durante comedy in 1941, before it become a hit by Status Quo in 1986. Although one could sing it as an anti-war song too, it is more often in use as a jar head hymn. Again the deconstruction is radical. What remains of Elgar's march and the bawling of recruits, is beyond recognition, brittle, somber, and as un-singable as a Boulez "Sonata" or a Stockhausen "Klavierstück".
Is America wandering on a Lost Highway? The cover image which depicts half of a cowboy with his back to the hills, where the American Dream once envisioned the New Jerusalem, seems to indicate it.
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