Sunday, August 7, 2011

Loop B at Brasil Summerfest

Photo: Loop B for Facebook
Remember when you were a kid, and you'd take all the pots and pans out of the kitchen cupboards and play on your improvised drum set until your parents yelled at you to stop that ruckus? I haven't thought about those times in a while, but a show I went to recently made me think of them again. Loop B is a one-man electronic, junk band, and I'm convinced his parents never yelled at him to stop that ruckus.

In New York for the next three months from São Paulo, Brazil, Loop B performed at Drom in the East Village during Brasil Summerfest. When I arrived at Drom for the show, it wasn't clear to me whether the stage had been set up for the performance or was being used as a dumping grounds. There was a fancy laptop and a keyboard in a corner, but discarded auto and refrigerator parts, an old television set, and a other species of junk metal were front and center. I was excited to see what would become of this unusual set up.

Loop kicked off the show with a click of his laptop to begin the flow of alternative, electronic tunes. During the hour that followed, Loop was constantly moving back and forth between his laptop and his set, enhancing his original tracks with live percussion. I witnessed the most unconventional and creative uses of everyday objects that I've ever seen in a performance setting. Loop rolled a marble in a bowl, dumped the marble out, put the bowl on his head, and began hitting it with drum sticks. He rubbed together computer keyboards, dragged a working power drill across metal, played with a squeaking hand puppet, crushed empty, plastic water bottles, and pulled a toy sword in and out of its sheath. The experience was like watching a mad scientist in his lab performing radical experiments with sound.
Loop's performance challenged my conception of music entirely. I don't usually think about the sounds everyday or discarded objects are capable of producing when hit, shaken, or rubbed together. When I was forced to listen to them, I was hit with an acute sense of having ignored my urban, industrial surroundings for a life time. I think of Loop's music as the soundtrack of a city: in this most recent show, New York City from the perspective of a Paulistano. In fact, Loop acquired all of his large pieces, like the gasoline tank and refrigerator parts, here in New York. In São Paulo, he regularly frequents junk yards for scrap metal and other treasures. But, as you can imagine, Loop was able to bring only small objects, like the toy sword, with him on the plane.

I can't say that I found all of Loop's sounds to be pleasant. I was more than once reminded of nails on a chalkboard. But even thought I might not choose to play Loop B's albums at my cocktail party, I would absolutely recommend his live show to all of my guests.

Loop B started his music career in the 1980s as a member of two experimental bands. He went solo in 1991 as Loop B, the name he uses today. In addition to composing for his own albums and shows, Loop loves to compose for dance shows and regularly creates experimental soundtracks for dance companies in São Paulo.

Loop B is in New York City through the end of October, when he leaves to perform shows in Belgium. Until then, he is working from New York on a soundtrack for a dance company with which he's worked closely in the past. He is also playing a show Cafe Orwell in Brooklyn on August 26th.

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