The album CHOICES

Choices is the debut album from multi-instrumentalist Christopher Rapkin. Christopher Rapkin is a multi-instrumentalist who performs every track on the album himself, with live instruments. As an artist, that is something I can appreciate.

 

The first thing I notice is the various genres and influences covered from top to bottom. There's Folk, Country, R&B, Rock, and Ballads. It's great to see this type of diversity in an album. I can attest to this being no small feat, ESPECIALLY when you are tracking everything yourself. 

 

Every song is solid, and relatable to the title; Choices. 

 

What strikes me the most is the excellent Piano work. Although all other instrumentation is superb, the Piano on this album is superb. In particular, I thoroughly enjoy Effortless.

 

The mixes are pretty good across the board, with every instrument punching through with clarity, even the most subtle. To my ear, there is a little inconsistency in master volume, but it's rather subtle.

 

Overall, I will have to rank this album a solid 8/10. I love the diversity, I love the instrumentation, I love the soul, and I love the spirit.

         -Brandon Hall at  BHALL MUSIC

                                                 United States 

The album RELEASE:

 

As any album proudly bearing labels such as relaxation and meditation hoves into view, I have a tendency to brace for a salvo of head shop, whale noise nonsense and wind chime cacophony. But if more people working in such a broad and often misrepresented genre made music like Christopher Rapkin’s Release, then there would be nothing to worry about. It is an album which goes beyond the mere label of mood music and wanders through more exciting musical territory, well if exciting is not quite the right word…maybe worthy, clever and  unique are better fits. It skirts the realms of minimal, Vangelis soundscapes, of progressive rock interludes, of futuristic dreams and galactic visions. But the purpose here is not the outward journey that some of the track titles might suggest, but an inner voyage, one built of meditation, calmness and introspection.

And again, unlike many working in similar fields, this record goes beyond a collection of pleasing sounds or creative expression, though it obviously encapsulates that as well, but instead is composed of carefully selected sonics, of precise combinations of rhythm and musical vibration to create this Zen bubble that the music is helping you to attain. And even coming, as I do, from a more cynical place, away from such transcendental arguments, it is still quite simply a beautiful collection of music. Perfect for repeat play at low volume throughout the house or as the back drop to a chilled gathering or late supper. And even by admitting as much I guess that is the argument won on the behalf of the artist, even without delving too knowingly into the neurological reasoning behind the music I’m happy to admit that it enhances the room, chills the atmosphere and calms the soul. Damnit, I was determined to stay detached and just review, well, that’s the power of music I guess…who knew? Well, Mr Rapkin for one!

                         -Dave Franklin- Dancingaboutarchitecture.info

                                                                             Swindon, WiltshireEngland

"Beautiful synth work, reminds me of Brian Eno..."

                                                                   -Espher

                                                                   Manchester, U.K

"HOOOLYYY!"

                       -Rush Records

                                United States

The album Focus In:

 

Focus In is the Third Studio Album from Multi-Instrumentalist Christopher Rapkin.

 

From the very first time I hit PLAY on the leading track, Dirty Smile, I found myself headbanging. This is cool. Then, BOOM! What a riff! Such raw and raunchy guitar tone! On to the next song...WOW! More great guitar! In fact, from top to bottom,  Focus In is absolutely filled with great guitar! 

This album is very concentrated, yet diverse. A rare combination of straight-forward Rock, something that is almost Southern Rock sounding at times, then goes into a straight Heavy Metal feel, this album caters to nearly every style of Guitar! You have big riffs, and then you have spanish melodies. How?!

You can hear a special attention to guitar tone throughout this record. Every guitar sound you hear sounds as though it is directly intended for that song. The guitar sounds serve the songs, and that requires a great deal of thought and consideration to do. 

The mix throughout the album is very good and strong. Instruments are clear, notes are precise, yet it is by no means overly polished. 

 

Basically,

 

This is an album that will give you faith that Real Music, by Real Musicians, with Real Instruments is still alive and well!

 

I have no choice, but to give this album 10/10. This guy knows how to ROCK! If you like Guitar driven music, then you MUST give this album a listen!

                 -Brandon Hall at  BHALL MUSIC

                                                            United States 

 

 

“Take You Away” is the fourth track from multi-instrumentalist and recording artist Christopher Rankin’s album “Focus In.”  This piece is a lovely ballad, opening with a single melancholy piano and Peter Gabriel-tinged vocals.  The introduction of cello brings a warm and welcome note to the song, and it showcases the power of simplicity when lyrical content is delivered well and with true emotion. 

                                                       -Diva Taunia   

                                                       Los Angeles, CA  United States                

Christopher Rapkin is an all-around, multi-task musician, he produces, writes, plays multiple instruments, edits and composes, amongst other things. He surely knows about music and as the President of Digitalology Music, a private label that designs everything from the music itself, to the album artwork it is presented with, he shares the experience of his craft with others.

After his debut album "Choices", in which there are sounds and feelings to choose from, from R&B and Bluegrass to Folk and Rock, and his album "Release", created and based upon the psychology of sound and neuroscience, comes "Focus In", the latest album, a guitar-driven journey through different sounds and concepts.

"Uncorked" is a very interesting song, with a very catchy beat and subtle layers of detail here and there. The strings on this song are what makes it interesting, they start appearing and you almost feel like you don't understand them right away, but somehow they all melt together throughout the song.

It's an unpredictable piece, it insinuates darkness before introducing light, and afterwards you can't quite pinpoint the feeling of the song, you just know it works very well.

There's something I really like about "Mad Summer", and that is how nostalgic it makes me feel. It is impossible to ignore how grungy and 90s the riffs sound. It's like a familiar song, in a way that it takes you some place or to some scene in your life that just sounded or rebellion, carelessness and youth.

"En la Costa" is a relaxing, paradisiac song that makes you feel like you are somewhere else right away. When a song tells a story, creates a scene and evokes feelings you know that it doesn't have to be a stand-out to work. "En la Costa" is no explosive track, because it doesn't need to be, it does its job on transporting you without you moving anywhere.

"Take you Away", the first song in the album that features vocals, is a heartfelt and straightforward song with simple and relatable lyrics. Easy to listen to and easy to like. Rapkin is very good at creating a feeling of familiarity that continues along with "Sustain", with its sound of movie action scene, its feeling of mischief and its heavier guitars. Definitely on the same line of "Mad Summer", almost as if they were two parts of the same concept.

"Just Beginning" is crafted in such a way that it captures a feeling of old-school music so perfectly, it could easily pass of as a song from the late 80s, on the opening of a TV show. Now that you have that image in mind, it is simply incredibly how well it fits, and how good was the whole production to

get that level of style fidelity. It even has the distinct sound of music recorded on cassettes. It is too short to properly relish in the nostalgia.

I particularly chose "Bugs in The Bed" as my favorite track. It is deliciously simple, ragged and rough on the edges in a great way, it carries no pretensions and it does just what it needs to do, set up a chill, yet defiant mood. This is a song for the cinematic bad boys and girls. A song that is up to no good, followed by "Dirty Smile", its more sorrowful and angry companion. It drips with defiance and it sounds like being misunderstood by the world. It is astonishing the way Rapkin captures the sound of youth in such a perfect way. Dirty Smile is my second favorite, and it has very little to envy to "Bugs in the Bed".

"Go to Hell Adele" is a fun rock song, with country-like vocals and a certain disdain that is simply charming and light-hearted, good to sing along, just perfect for a karaoke moment. "Monstre" is the guitar powerhouse of the bunch. Heavy riffs and an aggressive tone that goes a mile further from the rest of the guitars on the album. Simple drums give way for the guitars to fill up every space.

Christopher Rapkin is a musician that has very clear the sound of every feeling and situation, every track evokes a scene, a sensation, a memory, a sort of nostalgia that you just cannot ignore. Every song is special and some of them even tie together as parts of the same idea. The absolute highlights would have to be "Bugs in the Bed" and "Dirty Smile", yet the whole album shines on its own. 

                        -Laura Pérez -Moonsail Review

                                                     Venezuela

Christopher Rapkin is an experimental composer and musician from Arizona. His music is really kaleidoscopic and hard to predict, defying genre categorizations and definition, in favor of a more open approach. Christopher recently released his highly anticipated album, ‘Focus In’.  

This release is a 10-track album that feels like an innovative musical journey, showcasing Rapkin’s talent, compositional prowess, and eclectic skills.

The first track, ‘Uncorked’ is full of rich and complex synth arrangements, and Rapkin seamlessly interweaves classical music and folk guitar melodies, into a song that is truly unique and unorthodox. ‘Take You Away’ couldn’t be more different; this true ballad is reminiscent of early Elton John and Billy Joel, with expressive pianos and emotionally fluid lyrics that are heart-wrenching to listen to, and deeply emotional. ‘Monstre’ is the final song on this eclectic album, and it a real rock anthem - a perfect ending to such a complex and accomplished record.  

Christoper Rapkin truly has a deep understanding of all music genres, which he has carefully tapped into in order to craft a distinctive and remarkable collection of songs. There is something for everyone on this album, no matter what your music taste is. Listeners with a deep passion and respect for music will definitely enjoy this record from start to finish.

                         -Peter Vidani-Tumblr

                               United States

Christopher Rapkin, productor y compositor especializado en bandas sonoras cinematográficas (Easy Rider II, Destiny, War) acaba de publicar en todas las plataformas de internet su tercera y más reciente placa discográfica: “Focus In”; una balanceada muestra de sus diversas habilidades compositivas, manejando con facilidad y soltura diversos géneros musicales a través del álbum, pero primordialmente, en  Focus In encontramos un álbum de Rock N Roll, del buen rock de guitarra de todas las épocas, para todas las edades y todos los estilos; canciones que nos recuerdan a las mejores baladas de The Zombies, Elton John, pasando por Santana, sin olvidar guiñarse con ritmos y baterías electrónicas ochentosas, hasta tracks con mucho estilo de robustas canciones de Hard Rock, con guitarras que te moverán la cabeza.

Topamos con la inevitable influencia del cine en la música de Rapkin, cada canción nos transporta a lugares y emociones que son, sin lugar a duda, de película; sus instrumentales traen escenarios que resuenan a la costa (En la Costa), otros poseen la fuerza y carácter marcado que escuchamos en escenas clásicas de películas de acción (Sustain, Monstre, Dirty Smile), e incluso temas ligeros e introspectivos (Take You Away, Just Beginning) que agregarían la pasión necesaria a un film dramático.

Uncorked, tema que abre el disco, nos recibe con un ritmo electrónico al cual se van agregando por capas unas dulces melodías en guitarra y arreglos de cuerdas, las cuales se van fusionando con la base rítmica para crear un atmosfera interesante que definitivamente funciona muy bien vaticinando el carácter ecléctico del disco.

En La Costa, tercer track del disco, definitivamente es una pieza imprescindible; acá encontramos que el tema hace honor a su nombre, trasladándonos a paisajes de mar, playa y mucho estilo. Contiene un riff atrapante y bien construido, un ritmo con mucho groove, y una instrumentación clásica y garantizada, En la Costa está cargada de buena energía y con tal vez alguna influencia de la música de Santana que se deja escuchar entre líneas. Todo esto concentrado en un tema bastante maduro y que brilla por su fuerza y carácter musical.

Un momento refrescante del disco que nos demuestra la versatilidad que tiene Rapkin para ofrecer bajo su manga. En La Costa, un instrumental simplemente fenomenal e imperdible.

Seguidamente encontramos Take You Away, el primer tema acompañado por voz, el cual efectivamente, te llevara a otro lado; una composición nostálgica basada en un riff de piano que sujeta un peso emocional perfecto, conducida por una voz susurrante de letra delicada, de nuevo Rapkin reafirma su seguridad para moverse en diversos terrenos de la música y sus emociones. Bugs In The Bed, una de las composiciones más originales del disco, posee un ritmo hipnótico que

lleva la canción hacia lugares sobrios, tal vez un poco oscuros, pero una esencia bailable que inevitablemente te hará mover el pie.

Aunque la estrella de Focus In sin duda es el Hard Rock, su presencia la encontramos con tenacidad a lo largo del álbum; la potencia y robustez de estos tracks los hallamos en unos sólidos tonos de guitarras muy bien logrados, con respecto a esto Rapkin comenta: “Usé una combinación de Gibsons Les Paul's, una Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster y una Fender Jazzmaster 1966 para hacer las guitarras de todo el álbum (...)”, Christopher uso artillería pesada para conseguir lo que quería, temas como Mad Summer, Sustain, Monstre y Dirty Smile dejaran complacidos a todos los amantes de las guitarras pesadas. Especial mención para Go To Hell Adele por su divertida letra y su guitarra clásica de blues americano.

La portada de Focus In tampoco tiene perdida, una interesante composición que me gustaría pensar tiene un carácter subversivo, existe algo en estos bustos clásicos de la portada que simplemente sobresale, de diferentes estilos que se influyen entre si y convergen bajo una misma estética. Focus In: un disco que fácilmente te cautiva en su propuesta, perfecto para los fanáticos del rock n roll, con sorpresas especiales que lo hacen una experiencia musical sumamente rica en sonidos y estilos, refrescante y agradable. 

TRANSLATION:

Christopher Rapkin, producer and composer specialized in cinematographic soundtracks (Easy Rider II, Destiny, War) has just published his third and most recent album: "Focus In" on all platforms; a balanced sample of his various compositional skills, easily managing and releasing various musical genres throughout the album, but primarily, Focus In found a Rock N Roll album, good guitar rock of all eras, for all ages and all styles; songs that remind us of the best ballads of The Zombies, Elton John, passing Santana, not forgetting to wink with rhythms and electronic drummers, to tracks with a style of robust Hard Rock songs, with guitars that will move your head. We clash with the inevitable influence of film in Rapkin's music, each song transports us to places and emotions that are, without a doubt, film; their instruments bring scenes that resonate to the coast (On the Coast), others possess the force and marked character that we hear in classic scenes of action films (Sustain, Monstre, Dirty Smile), and even light and introspective subjects (Take You Away , Just Beginning) that would add the necessary passion to a dramatic film. Uncorked, a theme that opens the album, welcomes us with an electronic rhythm to which sweet melodies on guitar and string arrangements are layered, merging with the rhythm base to create an interesting atmosphere that definitely works very well predicting the eclectic nature of the album. 

Uncorked, a theme that opens the album, welcomes us with an electronic rhythm to which sweet melodies on guitar and string arrangements are layered, merging with the rhythm bass to create an interesting atmosphere that definitely works very well predicting the eclectic nature of the album. En La Costa, third track of the album, it is definitely an essential piece; here we find that the theme lives up to its name, moving us to landscapes of sea, beach and much style. It contains a catchy and well built riff, a groovy rhythm, and a classical and guaranteed instrumentation. On the Coast it is loaded with good energy and with perhaps some influence of Santana's music that is heard between the lines. All this concentrated on a fairly mature subject and that shines by its strength and musical character. A refreshing moment of the album that shows us the versatility that Rapkin has to offer under his sleeve. En La Costa, an instrumentation simply phenomenal and unmissable. Next we find Take You Away, the first track accompanied by voice, which will effectively take you to another side; a nostalgic composition based on a piano riff that holds a perfect emotional weight, driven by a whispering voice of delicate lyrics, again Rapkin reaffirms his security to move in diverse fields of music and its emotions. Bugs In The Bed, one of the most original compositions of the album, has a hypnotic rhythm that takes the song to sober, maybe a little dark, but a danceable essence that will inevitably make you move your foot. Although the star of Focus In undoubtedly is the Hard Rock, its presence we find with tenacity throughout the album; the power and robustness of these tracks we find in solid tones of very well achieved guitars, with respect to this Rapkin comments: "I used a combination of Gibson Les Paul's, a Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, and a Fender Jazzmaster 1966 to make the guitars of the whole album (...) ", Christopher used heavy artillery to get what he wanted, songs like Mad Summer, Sustain, Monstre and Dirty Smile will please all lovers of heavy guitars. Special mention for Go To Hell Adele for his funny lyrics and his classic American blues guitar. The cover of  Focus In is not lost, an interesting composition that I would like to think has a subversive character, there is something in these classic busts of the cover that simply excels, different styles that influence each other and converge under a same aesthetic. Focus In: an album that easily captivates you in your proposal, perfect for fans of rock n roll, with special surprises that make it a musical experience rich in sounds and styles, refreshing and pleasant.

                    -Luis Baultista- Venezuela Analítica

                                                                               Venezuela

Songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and engineer Christopher Rapkin has delivered his newest guitar-infused, hard rockin’ instrumental album Focus In.

His third release, Focus In, strays away from the multi-genre and meditative albums released previously with more of a focus on guitar and the tones that can be achieved with the instrument.

At times it was just about getting the right tone to track along with a rhythm or lead and not overshadow any particular part. I added some different genres to show some versatility, but mostly it’s a rock album with a concentration on guitar.”

In addition to his composing and audio skills, Chris is a founding member of Digital Composers Guild, President of Digitalology Music, has worked on soundtracks for War, Destiny and Easy Rider II, scored the musical Servantissimo, composed the music for the 100th Anniversary celebration of Harley-Davidson, and took home the award for Best Duo at the First Arizona Music Awards.

Focus In isn’t 100% instrumental. Take You Away is a very soothing ballad featuring a very strong and impactful vocal performance. Just Beginning is a harder rockin’ track with a strong ’80s feel which also features vocals. There’s also Go To Hell Adelewhich is a more southern rock inspired tune about…well you can assume the content from the title!

                   -Joshua Smotherman-Mid Tennessee Music   (midtnmusic.com)

                                                                     Nashville, Tennessee United States

 

 

 

 

 

Dirty Smile

The lead guitar is so crunchy on this track. I'm reminded of Black Sabbath more than anything else. The way the guitars mingle in the bridge is a great dynamic. I think the mixing here is some of the best on the album too.

 

 Monstre

 

Laying the distortion on super thick here, and I always appreciate thick distortion. Very heavy, very hard-hitting.

 

Just Beginning

An unexpected turn. This has a huge arena glam vibe, very 80s. Getting hints of Dokken or Poison, maybe even a little Springsteen in the vocal delivery. It actually has hit potential.

Sustain

Love the bass on this one, and that screaming guitar at the start adds a lot of character. The solo in the final third brings everything together pretty nicely.

Take You Away

 

A very passionate vocal performance. The piano is nice and does its job.

Mad Summer

 

The early kick of distorted lead guitar does a lot to pull the listener in.

 

Uncorked

 

This track has a very pretty dynamic working between the various string instruments. A nice closer.

           -Justin Ashby

              Walnut, California United States

Christopher Rapkin: “Focus In” – substance over style!

BY JEENA JOHNSON 

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!