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Olaf Rupp: Life Science

Derek Taylor By

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Taken solely on the trappings of this release Olaf Rupp is something of an enigma, a German guitar prodigee who skipped the usual scuttling about in obscurity and shot straight to the big leagues of FMP. His debut disc for the label is complex primer detailing his impressive command of string theory and praxis. Recorded direct to digital at his leisure in a variety of settings from concert hall to bedroom the pieces illustrate Rupp’s broad base of moods and fingerings. A brittle sheen of amplified ice coats many of his structures on electric axe while his acoustic peregrinations follow less bombastic roads venturing into radioactive strains of flamenco and even folkish chordal progressions.

In the interview that comprises the notes for this release Rupp recounts a daily routine of morning Zen meditation followed by several hours of concentrated guitar exercises. The discipline in his self-described timetable manifests prominently in the methodical nature of this music. Rupp plucks, plinks and strums to an inner logic that is all his own. It’s a collective technique tantamount to many of his peers in improvised music, but outside shop talk circles and to the ears of lay listeners (like myself) his machinations may seem overly pedantic on occasion. There are moments that walk the tightrope of excess as on the florid pyrotechnics of “Ciel (post electro),” but there’s still something classically and ingratiatingly artistic about Rupp’s decision to play first and foremost with his own wants and needs in mind. “Viva” announces on a repeated anthemic line caked with thick fuzz tone and distortion while arpeggiated figures laced with frosty trails of feedback form the crux of the close. To my senses it’s on numbers such as this, with the added edge of amplification that his reticular string patterns really succeed in attaching themselves to the ears and beginning the work of dismantling barriers to their ingress. The synapse between artist and instrument is sometimes a closed system across these compositions. But there’s still plenty on the surface to captivate listeners willing to peer through the figurative pane glass separating them from the guitarist’s inner cerebral workings.

FMP on the web: http://www.free-music-production.de


Track Listing: Bios/ Flor/ Nerf/ Ciel (post electro)/ Heat/ Viva/ Voce/ Path/ Rain/ How Big Is Your Heart?/ Body/ Soil.

Personnel: Olaf Rupp- electric & acoustic guitars. Recorded: June thru November 1999, Berlin.

Title: Life Science | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: FMP Records

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