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Olaf Rupp, Tony Buck, Joe Willamson Weird Weapons Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Acoustic free improv par excellence from an international trio.

Martin Longley 2005

This recording captures guitarist Olaf Rupp, bassist Joe Williamson and percussionist Tony Buck when they all happened to be living in Berlin, back in September 2002. Rupp is a native German, but Williamson is Canadian and Buck is Australian. Rupp has released three solo albums, and now appears to have given up his use of amplified guitar and electronics, concentrating completely on his acoustic instrument. Williamson has gigged with the likes of Han Bennink, Steve Beresford and Eugene Chadbourne, whilst Buck is best known as the drummer with The Necks.

The trio play without any form of amplification or electronic interference, but their improvisation is so closely-miked that this certainly doesn't result in any delicate acoustic dappling. This is exhaustingly exciting music, without any let-up. It harnesses the thrill of spontaneous ignition. In fact, this album is going to be one of 2005's very best examples of improvised music, so striking are its two extended forays into the world of elaborate density and detailed, accelerated motion.

During the brilliant "Naugahyde", the trio sound like they're undergoing a furious catering crisis, a kitchen re-organisation at five times normal speed. They cover a lot of space, with a very flooded, broad sound. Tony Buck's percussive work is a marvellously sustained blur of skin-and-metal tinkering, constantly inventive as he explores timbre, texture and tension at a frightening rate.

He also finds time (and hands) to shake, scrape and seemingly drag large objects across a warehouse floor. Joe Williamson's bass has a gloriously full sound, enveloping the listener as he bows out thick swathes of deepness. Olaf Rupp is constantly flashing out filigree runs, little twists and embellishments. I'd swear that there are shards of Django Reinhardt in there somewhere...

Buck describes the trio's avowed approach in a sleeve note and, as it happens, he's exactly right: the trio's music is busy and compacted, but also operates with the overall effect of a vast, slowly moving plate of sound. It's as if they're using tiny details to build a single entity, like an organic colony of small minds, making up a big intention.

There's an endless joy in scrutinising the sheer variety and vitality of their palette. This trio sound like they know exactly what they're doing at every single moment, full of purposeful detail. The shorter "Spandex" can't hope to sustain the power of "Naugahyde", but it's probably not designed that way, being a more reflective, spacious piece. Here, Rupp, Williamson and Buck are adopting the distant vocabulary of a jazz trio, albeit mutated and scrambled into a new form.

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