Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer. Christopher Rapkin is many things, including founding member of Digital Composers Guild, and a music industry consultant. During September Rapkin released his 10 track heavy guitar album, entitled “Focus In”. Listening to Rapkin on this album it also becomes clear that he could be known as a great guitar virtuoso and a perfectionist. Christopher is the guitarist who sings and he does it quite well, in my opinion even better than Steve Vai. Also he is a good composer, all of his albums are full of songs of different styles. So he’s the man whose albums are full of songs of different tones and textures. As for his guitar playing, he is unlike Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, in that is less frenetic technically, and more concentrated on thick and heavy rhythm structures, at least on “Focus In”.
Christopher Rapkin does not chase the shredding ghost, searching rather for the melody in his solos. He has a powerful raw vibe in his style, which he sometimes polishes up with astute studio production and tasteful playing, or he may just leave it at that if he chooses. He also makes his music interesting by deciding to sing over it. Let’s face it, instrumental guitar music can sometimes be boring over many subsequent tracks. So you’ll find Rapkin throwing his Bob Seeger- styled vocal cords into the mix, on tracks like “Go To Hell Adele”, “Just Beginning”, and “Take You Away”.
You have the ultimate, overdriven, down and dirty rock n’ roll guitar songs in, “Dirty Smile”, “Monstre”, “Sustain” and “Mad Summer”. But almost every track has a hook or guitar riff that immediately grabs your attention. You’re guaranteed to find something interesting or suited to your tastes on this album.
You get a couple of excellent ballads, as well as some bluesy riffs, and an acoustic guitar dominated track with a hip-hop beat, moreover Christopher Rapkin is an expert at combining multiple styles into just one song. And as mentioned previously, he doesn’t just play guitar solos like other shredders; he writes actually songs and selects his note choices wisely.
Artists who show more style over substance (Steve Vai) to those who play the same notes over and over again (Yngwie Malmsteen) are a completely different kettle of fish compared to Rapkin, so don’t get these mixed up. What I really liked about the album is that it is very easy to listen to.
Rapkin’s guitar playing is just perfect, very little pyrotechnics, plenty of visceral power. It’s obviously a personal point of view, as I know many of you like the pyrotechnical stuff – I do too, but not an entire album’s worth…(get it Yngwie?)
Overall “Focus In” is a fine and extremely likeable addition to the Christopher Rapkin catalogue, which manages to avoid the all too common guitarist’s pitfall of sounding like they’re trying too hard too impress. I’m sure Rapkin and his fans are clearly aware that he has nothing to prove and this album sounds like a passionate artist having a good time with his favorite guitars – a combination of several Gibson Les Paul’s, a Fender Custom Shop Strat, and a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster – Lovely stuff!