Monday, 15 June 2009

Livelooping in Antwerp

Livelooping Improvisation in Antwerp, part 1 (10:21)
The spoken word on this track is from a Hugo Ball poem that I found on Ubuweb.
(Here's the download link if you can't stream this)

After a gig on an electronic music festival in a club in Cologne on May 9 (which went so-so for me partly because the sound sucked, I was not yet used to my new music software, and I was sick), my little European livelooping tour started with a gig in Antwerp, Belgium, hometown of Sjaak Overgaauw. Sjaak had visited the Cologne livelooping festival that I had organized in May 2008, and liked the concept so much that it didn't take much to persuade him to organize a livelooping festival of his own.

So a day before the festival, livelooping festival inventor and multiinstrumentalist Rick Walker and guitarist/singer Luis Angulo arrived here, coming from southern Germany. Before we went
to my place, we had dinner in Cologne, meeting Julia Kotowski, a singer/songwriter/multiinstrumentalist/livelooper who was invited by Rick Walker to this year's Y2K9 livelooping festival in Santa Cruz, CA. Rick was a little surprised at her young age meeting her in person on that evening, but we both agree that she has lots of talent and has developed a very interesting song style of her own which definitely deserves to be presented at the festival.

Julia Kotowski and Rick Walker

We spent some hours on the autobahn to Antwerp the next day (during a long hot stop in a traffic jam, Rick used the time to program his musicbox for the gig) and arrived in the afternoon at the Arenberg Schouwburg, a beautiful venue in the center of Antwerp.

Luis Angulo and Rick Walker

It was so great to meet old livelooping friends, and some new ones. Yes, the music is at the center of this, but the chance to spend time together with this very nice and creative bunch of people who I get to see only once in a couple of years is at least as important to me.

I was especially happy to meet Os, Mike Bearpark, and Andrew Booker from Darkroom who I had the chance to play with in London in November 2007. And of course there was Fabio Anile from Rome, he had played on the Cologne festival in May 2008 and got inspired enough to organize a livelooping festival in Rome a week after Antwerp (more about this later). I also met Dirk Serries again, he had filled last year's Cologne festival venue with his "Fear Falls Burning" drones and got to Antwerp to present his new "Microphonics" project.

Sjaak had done a perfect job organizing this festival. Venue, staff, technical things, food, everything was perfect. Thanks again Sjaak!!

Sjaak Overgaauw announcing the 1st Belgian livelooping festival

This evening's loop shows were very diverse as usual. This time I especially liked Luis Angulo's vocal loops and his amazing Flamenco style guitar loops. Darkroom played a wonderful set that made me feel real good for some reason. I crawled around on the floor while they played, Os had given me his hitech camera and I had the job to take photos of the group which I gladly did.

I had added a Sustainiac Model C and a GK-2A midi pickup to my Hohner Steinberger guitar

In my own set, I tried to make use of quite a number of toys (such as Os's wonderful XFadeLooper plugin), some of them new ... and I improvised ... so the result, as often before, was a collage like mix of different styles, and my own feeling afterwards was also mixed, although the audience seemed to mostly like it. Here's the second excerpt:

Livelooping Improvisation in Antwerp, part 2 (3:39)
(Here's the download link if you can't stream this)

I'm not sure where my creative impulse is leading me in my livelooping work. I hesitate to control it too much, so I try to let it find its own way. I wonder if it will eventually end up in some recognizable style, something that more experienced liveloopers like Markus Reuter or Robert Fripp or Dirk Serries or Rick Walker have developed. At this time, it is much more tempting for me to jump into completely different pools at every gig, sometimes even with sudden breaks, instead of trying to paint stylistically similar pictures every time. Rick told me that he loves the diversity of styles and sounds in my sets, and he thinks that the audience does too. We'll see how it will work in Rome next week, and in Santa Cruz where I plan to perform in October.

(the photos were taken by Sjaak, Os, and me)


  1. Wonderful Michael, the sights and sounds are the next best thing to being there. I loved your set. I dig the fact that you are always going in new directions, exploring new things. A real sense of adventure.



  2. I love that tune and the is beautiful how it ends, with that gentle drone sound.

  3. Cool to hear you're playing "The Rick Walker Madness" aka the Y2K9loopfest!

    All the best,

  4. Michael I enjoyed this, maybe I'll make it over there for a future festival one day. So many European friends now to meet.

    Best with all

  5. PS look fwd to meeting you at Y2K9...

  6. i like very much how you incorporate all what you are in music in a 10 minutes sneak set ... my respects master!

  7. ... i can recall some chord progressions from the veloopity tapes ... they're winners to me ...

  8. i second that said before by others ... you always manage to find new paths and ways ... surprise! ... you're into the process of desintegrating yourself, which only a few talented dream of ...

  9. ah! forgot to mention ... i think the guitar being used made a difference... not that this is a superior instrument, just that you reacted differently to this tool. don`t ask me why, but i feel it.