Life Science

Olaf Rupp

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Life Science Review

by Thom Jurek

Olaf Rupp is a German guitarist based in Berlin, and his singular approach to improvising on the electric guitar places him in a league with players such as Raymond Boni and Marc Ducret. While his language is as personal as Derek Bailey's, it does not yet possess the transcendental ability that the British master's does; Rupp's playing is, more often than not, an in-your-face approach to finding small unexplored or underexplored sonic nuances in the body of the instrument itself (or in his own technique), and drawing them out into the open directly and forcefully with as little space as possible between idea and execution. All but one of the tracks were recorded live to CD in a broken down house in the suburbs of Berlin, and the 13-minute "How Big Is Your Heart" was recorded at the UNCOOL Festival at Lago di Poschiavo, Switzerland. It is the key to the entire musical language Rupp expresses. Warped, angular arpeggios are juxtaposed against tonal patterns that can claim no consistency because of Rupp's complete disregard for the tone switch on his Fender Stratocaster. He attempts to play patterns without variation on a guitar whose very nature is to create it. He finds one sonic hash mark; dives into it; brings it up from the depths quickly, furiously, architecturally; builds it up to a point where he and instrument are one; and then destroys it in a fit of noise, finger-picked maelstrom, and whammy bar fluctuations and chord modulations. Rupp's music is far less academic than Boni's and as explosive as Ducret's, with aspirations to be as literate and articulate as Bailey's. It is already original, already fiery enough to be arrogant, while holding a small place for receptivity from outside sources -- as in the melodic chord structures that are dissembled with left-hand acrobatics à la Jimi Hendrix. Life Science is a stellar debut by a gifted and uncompromising young artist.

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