You would be hard pressed to find a live musical performance that isn't using some form of manipulation of what the listener hears long before it hits speakers. From mega popstar vocalists like Britney Spears using autotune to stage floors littered with effects pedals (Radiohead), sound around us is being transformed.
But often this manipulation is broadcast from behind the wizard's curtain. The audience member is left in the dark wondering how those sounds were made, who was making them, and where exactly are they coming. Numerous performers hide their tools and perform as if these sounds just magically appeared. Someone made a choice, either be it analog or digital, so why not show us.
Reggie Watts is one wizard who is showing the magic. While Watts' gear tends to fit nicely into a small backpack, there is no limit to the loops and sounds he produces. But what should be noted is that Watts is all about the music, not the gadgets. In an interview with Gizmodo Watts says, "I've just always been fascinated by using technology as a tool to enhance creativity," he says, "Not to replace it, but to enhance it".
For a breakdown of Reggie Watts' gadgets and look into his wizardry, check out this Gizmodo interview.
Watts goes on to say:
I like simple, well-made, well-designed things. That's the thing that makes me happiest. Then the thing that makes me least happy is something that is not designed well. It could be anything, like a parking garage or a really small drinking fountain, because it's like why go through the effort and not do it right? It's really annoying.
Brandnewnoise's Loopy Lou is just that: a well-made, well-designed thing. It's designed to explore sound at a basic level. A simple record button, microphone, loop switch, and pitch shifting knob gets the creativity flowing. In the video below, Grizzly Bear's Two Weeks is recorded and manipulated.