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Paris Transatlantic Winter 2011 Issue
By John Eyles

At first glance, the two latest additions to the catalogue of Lisbon-based Dromos Records are barely recognisable as CDs. Guitarist Olaf Rupp's AuldLangSyne is housed in a large irregular hexagonal sleeve with a front cover painting by Antonio Poppe and leather back cover, and each copy includes a different Poppe engraving. Access to contents is via a slit in the leather just long enough to get a CD through. Schatten, by pianist Magda Mayas and cellist Anthea Caddy, comes in a tactile rich blue membrane made of ink skin designed by Nádia Duvall. And Rupp, Mayas and Caddy ensure the quality of the music is commensurate with its packaging.

AuldLangSyne's nine tracks run for just over an hour and were recorded by Rupp in Berlin in 2010. Although a frequent and successful collaborator, he's arguably at his best playing solo, on both acoustic and electric guitar, and maintains a cracking pace, even when playing comparatively simply and deliberately as at the start of the opening track "Every" (the track titles form the phrase "every dog has his day and a good dog just might have two days"). On acoustic guitar, the musical tumult includes rapidly strummed chords and arpeggios interwoven with harmonic and melodic strands, while sections of the longest track, "His", are highly reminiscent of flamenco. On the electric instrument, notably on "Day", the technique is similar, but bent notes, sustain and variations in volume add variety. Rupp's brain works as fast as his fingers, and he plays with impressive precision even at the fastest of tempi, but the music never sounds like mere technical display: each piece is unique and all are equally satisfying.

Improv Sphere
By Julien Héraud

J'ai déjà écrit une chronique sur un trio avec Olaf Rupp en compagnie de Tony Buck et Joe Williamson il y a un mois ici même. Je disais avoir eu la sensation d'entendre grouiller une nuée d'insectes, et en écoutant ce solo d'Olaf Rupp, je comprends maintenant que cette sensation venait principalement de ce guitariste. AuldLangSyne est une suite de neuf improvisations pour guitares acoustique et électrique selon les morceaux. Une suite très dense faite de clusters, d'une succession et d'une superposition de notes à une vitesse supersonique, notes séparées par des écarts vertigineux. Olaf Rupp ne rigole pas, les notes sont piquées et pincées, elles s'entremêlent avant même d'avoir eu le temps de résonner, on imagine facilement le front du guitariste en nage et les doigts en sang. Une technique de jeu virtuose et impressionnante certes, sauf que l'énergie maximale et hyperactive toujours déployée finit par lasser, la vitesse hystérique fatigue, tout comme l'absence de respiration et de relief.

Pas réussi à véritablement accroché malgré la singularité et la véritable fraicheur de la sonorité de Rupp. Trop monotone et plat à mon goût, AuldLangSyne m'a vite lassé et fatigué. Ceci-dit, les peintures sur cuir signées Antonio Peppe sont vraiment belles et ce mélange de gris et de noir urbains reflète plutôt bien l'atmosphère d'AuldLangSyne durant cette heure d'improvisation sur guitare verticale. Pour amateurs de guitare sensibles à la virtuosité et la rapidité, AuldLangSyne ravira peut-être les mélomanes avides de clusters et d'espaces sonores saturés.


The Wire #336 (Feb 12)
By Dan Warburton
In The Wire 336 (Feb 12)

"While many of his fellow Berlineres seem to have taken Ludwig Van Der Rohe at his word (or rather, Robert Browning's) - less is more - guitarist Olaf Rupp has consistently adopted the opposite track, combating the acoustic instrument's inherent lack of sustain by producing intense hyperactive flurries of notes that derive more from flamenco rasgueados and Chinese pipa technique (Rupp holds his guitar upright like the Chinese lute) than from traditional jazz fingerpicking. But on three of the nine tracks on AuldLangSyne - which you'll find tucked into a crack in the vaguely coffin-shaped hexagonal leather pouch along with an original engraving by Antonio Poppe, whose artwork also seems to adorn the cover - Rupp also plays electric guitar, and the volume allows him breathing space to skirt around the raw edges of feedback and explore ringing harmonics and variations in dynamics. Even in the acoustic pieces, there are occasional pools of calm in the storm of fluttery strumming that reveal an acute ear for melodic line, a sense of clear harmonic forethought and a feel for a large-scale form often lacking in-the-moment frenzy of his earlier work."

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