Luke Fischbeck: Born 1978 in San Francisco, California; lives in Los Angeles, California
Luke Fischbeck recruits guest musicians and audience members to participate in Lucky Dragons, his communal music experiment linking sound to video, dance, and interactive technology. Embodying the current resurgence in creating psychedelic art as a message of peace, performances of Lucky Dragons promote friendship and solidarity through media typically categorized as nonemotional and isolating—computers, digital instruments, and homemade electronic devices. Fischbeck’s improvisational approach to making music reflects life’s unpredictable beauty in songs he has described as “nature jams.” Borrowing thematically but not sonically from the acoustic-folk, protest song tradition, his ambient electronic pieces incorporate sounds ranging from gritty urban field recordings to sampled MIDI versions of medieval flutes, Inuit vocal games, and songs recorded inside the base of a redwood tree.
Having recorded five albums as limited edition CD-Rs, Fischbeck now divides his time between touring and posting music on his interactive website. The ongoing Hawks and Sparrows (2003– ), originally released as CD-Rs individually packaged with “the first flowers of spring,” has evolved into a free-download project. Its eighteen tracks are based on field recordings taken at four antiwar gatherings from which he removed all language-based rhetoric, leaving processed samples of “pauses, whistles and yells, drums, sirens, helicopters, electric hums, boom boxes” and more. The unexpectedly musical results range from meditational, harmonic loops of sound to crackling distortion that recalls music played through blown speakers.
Live, Fischbeck breaks down the barrier between audience and band by conducting his concerts as workshop-style situations. “Complement Song” (2006) implores audience members to compliment each other. The Make a Baby project (2005– ) generates sound based on skin-to-skin contact: via conductive sensors knit into tapestries or handheld tubes and wired to his computer, Fischbeck “meaningfully interprets” frequencies sent through participants’ physical interaction into a series of digital feedback loops. As audience members surround Fischbeck or hold hands to stay connected, determining the crowd’s visual organization, he also distills these signals into animated representations of human motion that appear on a screen as colorful moving patterns. Microcosmic realizations of the artist’s stated desire for a world “free of irony,” the sincerely cultivated, loving environments Lucky Dragons creates with every project empower the individual, reminding listeners of our ability to effect change in other social arenas. TRINIE DALTON
Lucky Dragons, Desert Walkers, 2006 - . Performance, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, October 21, 2006. Courtesy the artist and The Project, New York.