AS220′s looping festival features inventive musicians
September 28, 2016
By Andy Smith
Journal Arts Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — PVDLoop is not a new highway plan for the 6-10 Connector. Nor is it an old ride from the heyday of Rocky Point.
The official title is the Providence Y2K16 International Live Looping Festival, a three-day event Friday through Sunday at AS220 in downtown Providence.
The loops here are relatively brief, digitally recorded musical passages that repeat continually. The loops can be altered in numerous ways, such as speed or pitch. Performers can then create additional loops, which can also be electronically manipulated, and then add their own vocals, speech or instruments.
As the festival title suggests, the loops are not prerecorded, but created on the spot in front of an audience.
“You are basically orchestrating your own pieces,” said vocalist Laurie Amat, artistic director for PVDLoop. “This is a way for me of getting out all the music I hear in my head.”
Amat demonstrated at AS220′s Black Box Theatre last week, using a microphone, amplifier, a few small percussion instruments and a small arsenal of electronics, including a four-track mixer, on a table in front of her.
She started with rhythm from a cabasa, a shaker-like instrument, then a small bell. Then she recorded a wordless vocal part. Then another one on top of the first, then another, developing a hypnotic, chant-like effect.
The PVDLoop festival will feature more than 30 local, national and international looping performers, among them singers, bassists, drummers, a trombonist, guitarists, keyboard player, a saw player (that would be Cindy Sawprano), electric mandolinist, violinists, poets and more.
Performers from out of town include the duo WD-41 (Willie Oteri and Dave Laczko) from Austin, Texas, and Hideki Nakanishi from Japan. The local presence includes AS220′s ZuKrewe, RISD professor and sound artist Shawn Greenlee, members of the MEME (Multimedia and Electronic Music Experiments) program at Brown University and Rachel Blumberg, formerly drummer with The Decemberists and now a member of Rhode Island band Death Vessel.
Blumberg, a native of Portland, Oregon, moved to Rhode Island about four years ago after meeting fellow Death Vessel member Jeffrey Underhill. Although she wrote songs on her computer to stay creative while on tour, Blumberg says that she’s a relative newcomer to looping and electronic music.
The first time she used a looping pedal (and her first solo show) was at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket in May 2013.
“I bought a looping pedal and started messing around with effects,” she said. “I decided to take the songs I had written and do them solo. So far, I’ve performed maybe seven times.”
Sometimes, she added, she also used visual images, although that will not be part of her show at AS220.
She described her work as “emotional soundscapes” using drums, other percussion instruments and keyboards, building up layers of rhythm and sound through looping.
Amat grew up in Rhode Island but left in 1979 and settled in San Francisco. About six years ago, she got involved with live looping, became increasingly interested in its possibilities, and took part in the Y2K Looping festivals.
She returned to Rhode Island two years ago, and is now a resident artist at AS220. She noticed there was no live looping festival on the East Coast, and with Walker’s blessing decided to start one.
“I took the dive off the mountain all by myself. . . I’m looking forward to bringing my home city into an international network,” she said. “This place is filthy with talent.”
PVDLoop is a three day music & sound festival, October 13th, 14th and 15th at AS220 in Downtown Providence. The festival presents local, national, and international live looping musicians in multiple genres including pop, jazz, experimental improvisation, ambient and beat box. This is the second year of the festival, the only satellite festival on the East Coast of the Y2K International Live Looping Festivals.
Artistic Director Laurie Amat | Participating Artists + Volunteers
Managing Producers Corinne Wahlberg and Stuart Window | Press, Sponsorship, + Hospitality
Providence, Rhode Island 02903