Olaf Rupp "Mai"
12" Sieben 7.3

Olaf Rupp - Mai

Gert-Jan Prins "Sub 8/9"
12" Sieben 7.4

Gert-Jan Prins - Sub 8/9

The Sieben label is run by Frank Dommert (Entenpfuhl, Sonig) and A-Musik's Georg Odijk. As I note in the questions I posed to both Prins and Rupp below, Frank Dommert said that the "basic idea was to release techno-lookalike-maxisingles with really extreme music". The first Sieben record was by Ziel, which was recorded by Dommert and Odijk "live in a car" in 1989. The second Sieben 12" was the "Bruesseler Platz 10 A-Musik Live" by an outfit consisting of Jan St. Werner, Marcus Schmickler and Odijk. This title was recorded live at a festival in Stollwerck, Cologne. Dommert tells me that future plans for Sieben include a 12" by Rudolf Eb.Er (Runzelstrin & Gurgelstock) which should be out sometime this year.

On Rupp's "Mai" a tiny little lower case 'a' etched into the run-out groove informs us that the "text side" is the A-Side. This side begins with clicking percussive loops, coalescing into a dark mechanical pulse. The beat falters, and though it sometimes approaches a near-gabber speed the rhythms are always slipping under scratchy echoes and rough distortion. The sounds are dirty and almost nasty - contact mic'ed electric pops and sandpapery textures dominate. The B-Side, whose label is adorned by a murky gray graphic opens with thick waves of electric noise building into a headbanging beat. Out-of-Control high-pitched feedback erupts - in general this is much harsher than the flip, though this track coasts to the finish with another stark lopsided "gabber" loop shuffling endlessly through EQ tweaks and shifting textures.

The A-Side of Prins' "8/9" featured dirty noisy fuzz, like greatly amplified vinyl surface grunge. The noise textures give way to oddly paced loops that seem to mimic and ridicule the linearity of a "techno" beat. Pulses, chirps and the impression of vinyl surface noise is sustained throughout. Again, the velocity of the rhyhm has me envisioning some sort of dub remixes of a non-existent lo-fi abstract gabber outfit.
The B-Side introduces a subdued trebly clicking loop, full of pops and hisses. Electric disruptions erupt as layers of abstract loops fall in and out of phase. Sounds resembling distorted radio static and vinyl crackle explode quietly throughout a mix that is much less dense than the flipside.

"Mai" and "Sub 8/9" do indeed have the look of "techno lookalike maxisingles", perhaps crossed with a bit of post industrial photo-imagery on the labels, but packaged in anonymous plain black sleeves. Both records are clearly labeled as "45 RPM" but they are thoroughly enjoyable at any speed and in any direction. To me they seem to be in a same (small) class as records such as the "Trace Route" LP by USBS on Touch, and Fon's "Phase Lock Loop" 12" on Laton. The dominant sound, despite of what methods were used by the artists, sounds like abstract vinyl-surface scrapes and the structure and form seems to be patterned after locked grooves and vinyl skips. The resulting rhythms possess the repetitive infinite drive of techno minus the funk. Which is why in my brain I can picture both Rupp's and Prin's Sieben records as some form of lo-fi ambient gabber - a notion that might be ridiculous to the artists but which I hear in the music nontheless. "Mai" and "8/9" are still in print and available from Anomalous Records or Forced Exposure.

Frank Dommert, Olaf Rupp and Gert-Jan Prins have granted permission to present these mp3 extracts from the records:

from Olaf Rupp "Mai" Side A
from Olaf Rupp "Mai" Side B part 1
from Olaf Rupp "Mai" Side B part 2

from Gert-Jan Prins "Sub 8/9" Side A
from Gert-Jan Prins "Sub 8/9" Side B


Olaf Rupp Guitarist Olaf Rupp, based in Berlin has played free improvisation with artists such as Paul Lovens, Sainkho Namtchylak, Wolfgang Fuchs, Butch Morris and many others. For the last decade Rupp has been playing what he terms "improvised pop music" in duos with drummer Hanno Leichtmann (as Emak Bakia) Stephan Mathieu (as Stol) and as Beastieshopbeach with Goetz Rogge. Now he focuses on acoustic and electric guitar solo performance. His recorded output includes two solo-guitar efforts: "Life Science" on FMP and "September" on Grob, as well as two Beastishopbeach CDs (both on Grob) and a Stol EP on Kitty-Yo. A full discography can be found at:

Photo: Gabriele Worgitzki

1. Frank Dommert told me about Sieben: "The basic idea was to release techno-lookalike-maxisingles with really extreme music" - did you know about this basic idea when you were approached to release your music on the label? Were you 'commissioned' to provide the music?

At the time I recorded 'Mai' I had no computer. It is recorded on my boombox - just to monitor my rehearsals. I liked this day's output so I asked a friend to copy it to CD. I gave away some of these CDs and one ended up on Frank's desk.

2. The sounds/frequencies on 'Mai' are pretty amazing - are you really just using a guitar and effects pedals??

I had a setup of my guitar effects (a Boomerang, a Korg G5 bass guitar filter, a Boss MetalZone distortion, a wooden board with a piezo pickup ("knock on wood...") and a Behringer Mixer - no guitar). The sounds came from resonances between these devices and bleeding inside the mixing board. First it was meant to have kind of additional pulsating rhythms for Stol. After Stol split I tested out whether I could handle solo concerts with only this setup but it turned out it was very extreme to control and needed as much practicing as, say a violin (no money to buy other, more safer tools) At the same time I was discovering some playing techniques on the guitar that also needed a lot of practicing - so I decided for the guitar.

3. I have your "Life Science" CD on FMP - which on the surface is quite a different selection of music - is there a common ground between your approach to acoustic guitar playing as heard on "Life Science" and the music on 'Mai'?

To me these are just two waves in the same ocean; two different approaches to what I hear inside. A music that should be touching but not sentimental. It was just each of the two instruments was very demanding, so I had to decide for one. I made a new CD right now, called SCREE with only acoustic guitar, still looking for a label, as FMP is blocking themselves in internal lawsuits. I put two mp3 on my website.

On the guitar I can produce very fast and dense clusters of tones. I don't do this to show off. To me these clusters melt into one virtual sound that I can hold in my hands. It is breathing and it responds very direct to what I do. But, similar to those "magic eye" stereo pictures: if you donít get to this point, where the information melts into something new, you see only fast, chaotic rubbish. Maybe I will take up the electronix later again. I am still doing things on my computer (sound collages and so) but I donít practice the Mai setup for hours daily any more.

I wrote a text "Guitars And Diggers" about this, which we used as 'liner notes'. See below. There is also a text called "Virtuality Pop" on the text page of my website, about the kinship between Improv and Electro.

"Guitars and Diggers" by Olaf Rupp.

When you are surrounded by the same sound for hours, days, weeks and months, these sounds turn into a persistent, haunting presence. The soul can leave the body through the ear. My soul had been wandering through the inside of other machines that had been terrorizing me. I know every acoustic corner of the diesel engine of the lorries and diggers, the pneumatic and mechanic systems of air hammers that had been besieging my different living places.

First I moved to a new flat every time a construction came within reach of sound. Then I noticed I moved several times a year and my friends started to make strange remarks. Then I went out to record these sounds and I noticed, this can break the power of haunting sounds because itís presence in the air is no more linked to a certain moment in time. (You can always push the STOP button) Then I linked my electronic guitar effects devices in a way that they can synthesize these sound walks. In fact this setup of mixing board, filter unit and digital delay is just another machine as well - the difference is that this machine does not impose a sound to me - I can make it sound like I want it to. I made recordings of "Musik fŁr Baustellen" which are able to break the noise terror of haunting sounds not by covering them up (playing louder than the lorries) but rather by adding a new component to the sound in the air.

Maybe this is the difference between a machine and a musical instrument - an instrument allows your soul to enter it and move freely inside it, only restricted by your ability to play. And you can leave whenever you want. That is why I like guitars much more than diggers.

Olaf Rupp, Berlin 1998


Gert-Jan Prins - Gear Amsterdam-based Gert-Jan Prins has played with Mats Gustafsson, Lee Renaldo, William Hooker, Thomas Lehn, MIMEO and many others. In addition to being a musician, Prins runs the X-OR label which has issued CDs by Luc Houtkamp, e-rax (Peter Van Bergen, Thomas Lehn, Prins), United Noise Toys (Prins plus Anne La Berge) and many other luminaries of the contemporary improv scene. Other than the 12" being discussed here, Prins has released a live disc on Grob and another title on his own X-OR label - a complete discography including various collaborations can be found here:

Photo courtesy Gert-Jan Prins

1. The Vital Weekly review of sub 8 & 9 at your website says: "It seems as though Prins takes the piss out of some DJ's, as it appears to be that he uses skipping vinyl to produce side A" - are you "taking the piss out of some DJ's"? It certainly sounds like very rough skipping vinyl - is that what is producing that sound?

Well, no. Itís an electronic sound. Over the last five years i designed and built an electronic system which creates feedback based on radio - and transmitter electronics and doing specific filtering.

2. Frank Dommert told me about Sieben: "the basic idea was to release techno-lookalike-maxisingles with really extreme music" - did you know about this basic idea when you were approached to release your music on Sieben? or were you 'commisioned' to provide the music?

After a Prins solo show in Cologne, Frank asked me to make a vinyl for his label. He said: "let it rock" I said: "ok".

3. Again, the website describes some of the gear you use in making your music - would you mind telling me more precisely what you used for making the music for sub 8 & 9? And are these tracks extracts from longer improvisations or 'self-contained' compositions?

Some parts are extracts from longer improvisations, some parts are "self-contained compositions" as a result of the working process:

Itís made out of several layers of sound basically I start improvising until I find something that fascinates me. I make recordings of that; then I start editing, combining layers of sound, start counting out beats, find the right transitions make improvisations again in certain parts, edit that again do specific filterings with my system in certain parts at a certain moment the thing starts to be a piece, then I lay the piece down for several days, listen again, do some edits, until I no longer can change something.

4. The upcoming "rg 58 gj" LP listed at your site - what label is that on?

It is on JdK Productions / Creamgarden Records.

5. The photo of you at the website- what are those three great-looking boxes with all the exposed wires?

That is the system I described.


Sieben website:

Olaf Rupp
Elbestrasse 28
D-12045 Berlin

Gert-Jan Prins



X-OR website:

Jack De Kuiper
PO Box 92097
1090 AB Amsterdam