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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Live Looping MP3s

Rick Walker‘s Loop.pooL project has a new album out, Faux Voix, all built from experiments in the live looping of speech: using digital equipment to allow a single musician to create polyphonic, multi-part performances in real time. Three MP3s off the album are available from his website for free download. The two relatively compact ones, “Chris Slice Funk” and “Sweeping Mary,” are each about one and a half minutes in length (they’re compressed at demo-level sound quality, 64kbps). With their emphasis on rhythm, they’ll appeal to fans of experimental beatboxing. “Chris Slice Funk” in particular has a pleasingly sensual, breathy quality to it. “Sweeping Mary,” in contrast, has a more ersatz Third World flavor. The third track, “Faux Voix #1,” was recorded live in concert, and in addition to being over six minutes long is more varied and mysterious than the others. (It is also compressed more generously, at 128kbps.)

Walker explains on his website that his live looping takes as its source material not only his own utterances, but also computer programs that simulate the human voice. Whatever their provenance, the sounds on “Faux Voix #1” have more in common with Meredith Monk than with, say, Rahzel or Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The sounds are less routinely musical than on the other two tracks, ranging from what seems like water drops to wind to electric interference to percussion. Furthermore, they overlap in pairings that serve to emphasize their uniqueness. The shorter pair of tracks are sure to entertain, but it’s on “Faux Voix #1” that we get a true taste of how technology can be abstraction’s handmaiden. (More info on the Faux Voix album, including the three MP3 downloads, c; Walker’s Loop.pooL website at looppool.info.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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