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Report from EM-2007
I just came back from Electro-Music 2007 in the northern Philadelphia
of Cheltenham. It was a great deal of fun, and there was a lot of live
looping involved in many of the sets, although mine was the only set
around it. Kevin Kissinger, used a fair amount of it in his virtuosic
Theremin set, and the several other guitarists (most notably Kurt Michaels
from Chicago, who played very expressively, and Mike Hunter from the
improvisational sextet - as I recall - Brainstatik) used what I assume was
unsynced looping to good effect. I'm sure there was a lot of other looping
going on in groups.
And, of course, lots of people were playing canned loops. But aside from
The group Spinning Plates used a common sync track and a click in their
for tightness, so they did pick a tempo/tempos before playing, but still
used looping quite spontaneously to excellent effect. In fact, they were
pretty much my favorite act of the weekend, mixing electronic techniques
with some virtuosic skills on drums, electronic wind, and guitar (as well
having a video artist as a member of the group, which produced, to my mind,
notably better-integrated imagery than any other group had).
There was a lot of noize (is that the current hip spelling?), some of it
looped, no doubt. I learned the difference between "dark ambient noize" and
"power noise", and I believe there's an "extreme noise" too. As long as
not damaging my ears, I can get into it. I learned the term "noizician"
Spike, aka Astrogenic Hallucinauting, whose set I really enjoyed.
The facility and lineup were excellent. The age spread was vast, but the
gender divide was, if possible, even more pronounced than Y2K6. It was
noon-midnight over 3 days, with half-hour (for solo artists) or 3/4-hour
(some groups) slots going almost constantly, as well as a jam room upstairs
and a demo room, both going round-the-clock. Constant activity, lotsa good
talk, lotsa new friends.
I had trouble with the constant neo-psychedelic video backdrops. They were
cool (and even stunning) in and of themselves, but by the third day I was
really sick of them (I think there were two or three video artists doing
whole festival, so the visuals did not seem as diverse as the music), and
fact found them to detract seriously from the music. I had to close my eyes
through a number of sets. I was the only artist to refuse a video backdrop,
and I was glad I did. I think for those whose approach is less
performance-oriented than mine, the videos were OK, but IMHO the other
artists would be well-advised to think more carefully about the way they
allow themselves to be presented.
Anyway, that and the lack of air conditioning in a couple of the spaces
my only criticisms of an otherwise great festival. Loopers should consider
this one as a viable venue, I believe.