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MP3 Andre LaFosse - Normalized

Turntablist Guitar: A cutting-edge cut-up of funk, glitch, hip-hop, and left-field dance music - all played live, on a solo electric guitar.

18 MP3 Songs
ELECTRONIC: Experimental, ROCK: Extended Jams

The rise of hip-hop and dance music in contemporary culture has led some people to wonder whether or not DJ''s can be thought of as musicians. But Andre LaFosse is a man who asks a different question:

Can a musician be a DJ?

Normalized is an album of "Turntablist Guitar." A cutting-edge cut-up of funk, hip-hop, and glitchy leftfield electronic music... that just happens to have been performed live, on a solo electric guitar, with no pre-recorded material, and no sounds other than those made by bare hands on steel strings.

Sound crazy? Then keep reading, as the method to this madness is explained.

"I''m a guitar player first and foremost, but I grew up listening to a lot of electronic music in all sorts of genres," Andre begins. "I''ve combined dance and hip-hop elements with guitar playing in my music for a long time, yet I''ve always been frustrated by the fact that the guitar and the electronics were two separate musical aspects."

"But the key to Normalized is that there is NO separation: the guitar IS the electronic element, and vice versa."

The secret ingredient of Normalized is a modern style of sampling that records, loops, and chops up sound live - instantly, in real time. "I can play something on my guitar, sample it live, and then immediately have it start playing back as a loop," Andre explains.

"It''s sort of like being a DJ, except that I''m not spinning pre-recorded material. Instead, I''m actually playing the guitar live, and sampling myself as I''m playing. So the recording is created right then and there, in the moment of performance."

If this prospect fills your mind with thoughts of endlessly-looped guitar cliches - repetitive rock riffs, droning power chords, or solos that noodle on forever - then think again: on Normalized, Andre LaFosse deals with the guitar first and foremost as a source of sound and groove. You might think you''re hearing drums, vinyl noise, and a dense collage of samples from far-flung sources, but it all comes from LaFosse''s six-string.

Andre elaborates: "The electric guitar''s a much more versatile instrument than most people give it credit for. There''s a wealth of different textures to be had simply by using your hands in different ways. You can even hit the strings percussively and get noises that sound like drums. So Normalized is about thinking less like a guitarist, and more like a DJ mixing - together different beats, grooves, and textures."

Fair enough. But this still doesn''t quite explain "turntablist guitar." What does ultra-complex vinyl scratching have to do with guitar looping?

"A turntablist uses the apparatus of a record player - the needle, the faders on the mixer, the turntable itself - to warp the sound of the record they''re playing," LaFosse explains. "With the looper I use - an Echoplex - I can do the same kinds of things with my guitar."

"I can drop tiny fragments of guitar into the loop, I can play the loop backwards, I can slow the loop down, I can chop the loops up... and I can do this all live, as I''m playing. It''s like my guitar is the record, and the Echoplex is the turntable and mixer. Just like a turntablist uses their technique to get sounds that are far beyond what''s on the original record, I can come up with noises and grooves that would be impossible to play on just an unlooped guitar."

And just as "regular" dance and hip-hop records will sometimes feature vocalists gracing their grooves on a few cuts, a handful of produced tracks on Normalized cast the guitar in the roles of both "rhythm section" and "lead singer."

"The produced cuts take live guitar loops, and use them as foundations for melodies and compositional structure after the fact," LaFosse says. "They''re sort of like songs with guest vocalists - except that the vocal role is played by the guitar. It helps to put the record into perspective, by juxtaposing the glitchy grooves against more ''normal'' things like melodies and chords. But the focus of Normalized is definitely the raw, live approach, and 14 of the 18 cuts on the album are live Echoplex solos."

So this is Normalized: a sample-based album defined by performances instead of productions. A mix-tape of digital beats performed entirely on guitar, by a musician who thinks like a DJ and plays like a crate of vinyl. Stop reading and start listening, because Andre LaFosse is waiting to flip your script.

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