I've been pondering Andre's departure while away from my e-mail for a week.
Andre may or may not be uncomfortable sharing a genre with Matthias Grob and
Rick Walker, but I think there is a fair amount of overlap and in ways that
are distinct from a singer-songerwriter using loops on a DL4 for
accompaniment and in ways that are pretty distinct from others I've heard at
looping festivals such as Richard Zvonar, Matt Davignon, or Amy X Neuburg
(who are all relatively distinct from one another). I think that similarity
is potentially apparent to people who aren't familiar with the technology.
Andre is more aggressive and less ambient in his playing than some but there
are some core similarities stemming from a musical style that grows and
evolves the music as the audience listens.
But that's where I think the "Live Looping" movement got itself in trouble.
There is an aesthetic similarity, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone
express what it is. This leaves us with "Live Looping consists of people who
use loopers live". But that includes the singer-songwriter with the DL4 who
doesn't think of himself as a live looper per se. As Kim (I think) has
pointed out, it makes knowledge that something is a looping event be about
as informative as knowing it's a guitar event or a trombone event.
So, to really be successful as a promotional tool -- which I think is the
basic reason for trying to define a genre -- there are a couple of things I
think should happen:
1. Someone needs to come up with a definition of the aesthetics and
experience from an audience perspective.
2. The name needs some consideration. If there is real audience knowledge of
live looping then that name may be worth keeping, but it also carries with
it the problem that to use a looper live may not make one a live looper per
se. Mark Sottilaro and I started toying with the name "Cycletronica" last
time this came up. He seems to have done more with it than I have.
I've also been thinking about Loopstock and wondering whether the
potentially anemic showing in Los Osos is symptomatic of a bigger problem.
Maybe it's just that like me other people have schedule conflicts. I'm
trying to resolve those conflicts, but I haven't managed to do so yet.
Or are Andre's frustrations taking hold at a broader level? I've found the
festivals extremely valuable to me as a player because without them I
wouldn't be playing publicly. But I've also found them a bit frustrating
both as a player and an audience member. For example, as a player, I become
paranoid about getting my rig into a form that will set up and strike very
quickly. That probably results in some useful focus and keeps me from
spending a performance playing with too many toys, but it is also a bit
stressful. And I really would like a soundcheck though the audience
presumably wouldn't. As an audience member, I find it annoying when others
haven't worked as hard and the festival turns into a festival of technical
difficulties. (As a performer, I can think "there but for the grace of God"
but that wouldn't cut it if I were just an audience member.)
Is it time to evolve beyond the marathon festival model? To what? How do we
keep bringing the community together without the stress level burning people