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CD Review Spam: "Normalized" reviewed by ebong.org


...aka the European Jam Consortium.  The reviewer really did his
homework, and gives not just a review of the CD, but a very
comprehensive account of looping in general, with a slant towards its
use in the jamband realm via Keller Williams and Trey Anastasio...

Review: "Normalized"/Andre LaFosse
by Jibbork Takayama

The technology of "looping" (the act of recording sound into an
electronic device, which then repeats it ad infinitum) in the pop music
domain pretty much starts with guitar virtuoso/electronic poineer Les
Paul. Les Paul's numerous technological advances, looping has become an
integral composition methodology in nearly all of todays popular music
culture. Nearly every beat you hear is looped from some sound source or
another... and nearly every groove record from the 1980's was looped
from classic James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield's "Funky Drummer"
funk out. But the technology of looping goes back to the invention of
electricity, and more importantly electronic music. 

In the mid 1960s Northern California composer Terry Riley used to
multiple Revox tape recorders to create extended improvisations, which
looped in and around themselves. More specifically, Riley's looping
process was to improvise keyboard, saxophone or voice tracks into a
microphone which fed the sounds into a 2 track reel-to-reel tape
machine, which looped itself around and around. The sound from the first
tape machine was then fed to a second reel-to-reel machine which
recorded the sound from the first tape machine then looped it. Riley's
set up endlessly passed the sound from the original source (Terry) to
Loop 1 to Loop 2 which would then be fed to loudspeakers which Terry
would improvise to. Essentially feeding it all back into itself, very
much like serpent eating its own tail until it eats the mouth that's
eating it. 

Jump to the early 1970's, English pop superstar Brian Eno and the king
of King Crimson, Robert Fripp experiment wildly with tape loops during
the recording of their collaborative albums "Discreet Music" and
"Evening Star" and "No Pussyfooting." Fripp eventually developed his own
looping system (Frippertronics) which he employed exquisitely (in one
form or another) with King Crimson and in his own solo performances to
this day. 

With the rise of turntablism, looping took another form. Instead of
recording sounds to magnetic tape, the skilled turntablist would create
a new compositon by beat matching short breakbeat sections from vintage
funk vinyl. The process is usually something like this: Play turntable
number one - turntable two is already set to start at the beginning of
the breakbeat... at the end of the breakbeat on deck one... start deck
two then silently roll deck one back to the start point of the
breakbeat... switch back to deck one when deck two is done with the
break beat... lather rinse repeat. 

Looping has slowly entered the jamsphere in numerous forms, most notably
Trey Anastasio's "funk siren" from the late 90s shows. Additionally, one
man band Keller Williams has made entire career out of epic loop
performances. Art punk geniuses Radiohead also employ real time
sampling/looping during their performances... often concluding their
performances with loops of "Everything In Its Right Place" still playing
to cheering crowds long after they've left the building. 

Los Angeles based solo loop artist Andre LaFosse takes all of this
technobabble and pushes it even further forward into the future on his
latest recording "Normalized". It's 73 minutes are filled to the
bursting point with turntablist guitar excursions that fall more in the
realm of drum 'n bass than the layered folk groovyness of Keller. One
comparative analogy may be... Keller is to the Big Wu as Andre is to The
Disco Biscuits. In fact Andre's playing is a bit more avant-garde then
anything the Biscuits may offer, but they both do traverse similar areas
of technodelica. 

Superbly recorded live-in-the-studio with no overdubs (except for a
handful of tracks) and no guitar synthesizers, the 18 tracks on
"Normalized" show Andre's dazzling mastery of his instrument and more
importantly his ability to execute densely packed improvisations that
rock your booty as well as blow your mind. Each and every pick scrape,
string scratch, harmonic squalk and muted flurry morphs into a giant
recombinant electronic percussion orchestra. Pushing available
technology its limits, Andre's real-time reverse loop tracking creates a
shape-shifting tapestry of imaginary hi-hats, cymbal swooshes,
Squarepusher-inspired snare drum feedbacks anchored by low down techno
bass dropouts, and some of the weirdest funk sirens this side of

"Hammerhead"'s basic loop is approximately 2 seconds long... 14 seconds
and 6 repeats into the track, an additional 6 layers have been added to
the original loop, while the original has been flipped around backwards.
0 to 420 in 14 seconds and already transmorphed from dancefloor
throwdown to intergalactic space dust dub n bass. The end result is
somewhat similar to turntablist beat matching... jumping from one short
break to another (this time backwards or slowed down or all scratched
up) all done in real time. As if to prove to us that this ain't no joke
or studio trickery, Andre' includes two versions of the track
"Solitaire," recorded at different tempos, in different keys. Still, the
outcome of each is singularly dazzling but when listened to in
succession they individually reveal the "from here to there" mastery
that Andre LaFosse posseses. 

All of this leaves me to the next group of questions... Where has this
guy been hiding? How come he's not in the late night tent at the summer
jam festivals? And with music as creative as this, one can only wonder
what Andre's 'in concert light show' is like. Wicki wicki wicki wicki.