looptalk

Listened to a guy other night at the open stage perform with a machine that starts/ stops loops easily. It had a pitch shifter built into it, his voice could be altered by an octave above or below, awesome trick (though maybe more impressive if it was 1988). Then he asked if anyone could lend him a book and the bartender offered up her hardcover bio of Cyndi Lauper. He took it and rapped to random pages or sung parts of chapters. The audience seemed impressed, I clapped too (didn’t want to be a party pooper), but yawning on the inside. Have seen a zillion people play with loop pedals, have been working with pitch shifters in digital work stations since the 90s and repurposing text for lyrics has been done lots of times in lots of ways by creative people. Favourite off the top of my head, George Harrison’s contents of a box of chocolates on the White Album, 6 decades ago. The first person I noticed as both a musician and a technologist was Brian Eno. His credit in those Roxy records was keyboards and electronics. It annoyed me at first, didn’t think he had much facility as a pianist – how can he call himself the keyboardist if he’s just a one finger keyboardist? But then my friend Cam and I heard his solo records and they destroyed us: brilliant unique work. We played it do death, we joined his cult. More and more there are musicians who play technology as their instrument. Maybe it is even more the norm today rather than knowing how to play an instrument well. Played a show with the Hidden Cameras in Montreal once upon a time, packed with people each paid more than $25 and the headliner was Caribou. When he took the stage, he sat down, opened his laptop and pressed the space bar. Everyone listened to the digital playback of his music or maybe danced to it. That was his performance, and the audience seemed to love it.

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