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Olaf Rupp: Whiteout

Nic Jones By

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The more time passes, the more it becomes apparent that the electric guitar is an instrument with characteristics inherently valuable when it comes to solo free improvisation. Olaf Rupp's sound world is every bit as singular as that of both Derek Bailey and Hans Reichel, and his musical personality is every fathom as deep.

His predilection for damping his strings makes for a dry, almost arid program. As the music is apparently to be taken as a body with more than the usual degree of predetermination, it is pertinent to note that "Part 7" is a piece where Rupp summons up an augmented vocabulary without recourse to anything other than string manipulation. The dexterity that this technique implies might be due to his playing position. If the pictures are anything to go by, he holds the instrument more like a considerably smaller double bass than any member of the guitar family, although the relatively reflective "Part 11," one of the occasions here when brevity is not a blessing, suggests that is of little relevance.

On "Part 1" he is momentarily sound-tracking an ant colony engaged in its customary level of activity, although an issue as basic as the relatively low volume of the piece undermines such superficial impressionism. When the piece does evolve, the process is anything but haphazard, although a frenzied passage almost undermines that impression in turn.

Any unpredictability implied by the analysis of "Part 1" is more than borne out on "Part 4" where Rupp comes as close as he ever does to evoking Bailey's spirit. His work is however more clamorous, more prone to rhetorical flourishes manifested in volume than Bailey's ever was, at least whilst playing solo. The results are however still compelling; the music's illogical flow enhanced by Rupp's deft manipulations and indeed his innate grasp of the possibilities electricity—and thus volume—have to offer.

Clocking in at just over ten minutes, "Part 6" lies more than literally at the heart of the program. Within it Rupp deploys his full vocabulary and in so doing lays down a challenge to all those for whom the guitar is no more than a penis extension. His grasp of dynamics in the moment is a law unto itself, but the time and effort involved in coming to terms with it are both well worth the effort. Again he employs next to nothing in the way of sustain, but the results resonate to a degree that's out of all proportion to the vagaries of his way.


Track Listing: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Part 11; Part 12; Part 13; Part 14.

Personnel: Olaf Rupp: guitar.

Title: Whiteout | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: FMP Records

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