Museum Of Modern Art, Oxford

The final element of four days of shows, talks and exhibitions organised by the Rushkin College.

Knowledge of Bugs and Mole Harness performed a loosely prepared set involving the live playing, recording, looping and processing of acoustic instruments and electric guitar.


Tom and I teamed up again, though for a completely different kind performance to our Kenneth Anger soundtrack. Knowledge of Bugs had previously played in Oxford, and when invited back for the MOMA event asked if I'd like to be involved. Tom had been building programs on his laptop geared towards improvisation, and the one we used this time recorded live audio and automatically looped sections of it. The recording of each loop was triggered by pressing a foot pedal while playing, and each loop (I think there were 8 in all) could differ in length as well other parameters such as pitch. Some of the parameters were set to change randomly, while others could be controlled by the operator. Each loop could be recorded over and replaced repeatedly, enabling you to completely change the piece very quickly, and you could also choose play live over the loops without recording anything. It took me a while to get the hang of all this, and we got to the day before the event without coming up with many ideas. Then I started fiddling around with my sampler, and stumbled upon something I'd never discovered before: that it allowed you to record new samples while simultaneously looping previously recorded ones. This proved to be the turning point, as I was familiar enough with my sampler to be able to improvise quickly without having to think too much about the process itself. With both of us playing electric guitar and creating our own loops, we soon came up with two long pieces of evolving guitar texture. These formed the backbone of the set, and the remaining track involved me processing Tom's woodblock rhythms using the laptop. The final performance went well, although I remember the last track never quite made it to the uplifting conclusion it ended up at during one of the best run-throughs. Such is the fickle nature of improvisation I suppose. It was nice to play in a light, airy, high-ceilinged gallery too, instead of the usual dingy hovels.

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