Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Battle Continues

Naotoxin battles The Watermelon BootlegLaptop Battle Tokyo, vol. 3
7/16, SuperDeluxe

Combining the craziness of computer-generated music and the thrill of competition, the sporadic Laptop Battles at SuperDeluxe are becoming some of my more anticipated events in Tokyo. It's a way to see how individual musicians, working in the very solitary medium of computers, can translate their gadgetry to a live performance.

The third edition did not disappoint. The music is always the focus, but this time I feel like the competitors upped their showmanship. While some may dismiss crazy masks, wigs and dancing as gimmicks, I figure that if you already know you can throw down, you might as well go for entertainment value as well -- something the judges seemed to take into account.

The battle featured eight musicians in a bracket-style tournament, competing for software and gear. It was off to a strong start in the first round, when Hiroaki Oba's mix of disco-y influences rightly won out over Azop Corp's more technically proficient but rather standard beats.

I won't go into detail of each round, but highlights for me included lots of samples from old-school Nintendo games, and the stage antics of Lastboss (who went on to the final) and Naotoxin, a competitor from the first laptop battle who unfortunately was eliminated.

Technical problems terminated competitor T3 from the running, but perhaps his dark, expansive music wasn't cut out for the competition.

The final paired ambient DJ Yuko Ono with the spastic stylings of Mancunian mixer Lastboss. It was a tough call because the two are so different stylistically. The crowd seemed to favor Ono, but Lastboss' supporters definitely knew how to be vocal.

Ono started out strong and I was sure she had it, but her second offering wasn't as sure. Lastboss was consistent in his seizure-inducing glitches and samples, and maybe it was his technical prowess and showmanship that won him the title.

Even though I thought the decision should've gone the other way, I don't think that Ono lost out, and I hope to see her again soon.

Check out the Laptop Battle website for lots of info. And anywhere else for pics better than mine.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMHO- this was not to my liking. I found the amount of actual playing to be quite minimal- that is, a few knobs turned along with Ableton Live (which EVERY participant used) and Reason being used for 90% of the song. I admit to not being completely sold on Laptop gigs, so I'm prejudiced. However, I did feel it was boring EXCEPT for the occasional use of props- it was no wonder that the guy in the mask won- as most participants bored the pants off me. Musically, the girls tunes were very good but alas she didn't have show(wo)manship did she. Let's hope for better luck in 4... Shamus

9:20 pm, September 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely appreciate your assumption that every one used ableton, as it is pretty much the standard nowadays.But, actually, 2 of the contestants used Audiomulch and one used cubase, the rest used ableton. For actual production, again , a combination of software was used, and not the '90% Reason' as u stated.
max/msp,Fruityloops,pro tools,to name but a few. Lets hope for better luck in 4!

3:34 am, September 26, 2008  

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