BiLE (Birmingham Laptop Ensemble) are a collaborative group of composers and performers of instrumental and electroacoustic music. Six artists were brought together through their shared interest in live performance and desire to perform and improvise together in an interactive ensemble. BiLE has an open attitude towards experimentation with sound, allowing members of the group to bring their own tools and musical experience to the ensemble. This enables composers with varied backgrounds to contribute to every aspect of the performance.
BiLE like to experiment with new ideas and technology and are continually developing and intergrating new aspects into their performances. Recently this has included the use of gestural controllers such as iPhones, wiimotes and Xbox Kinect, and introducing interactive elements into the performance where audience members can control aspects of the sound.
For this year’s Network Music Festival they present two new pieces which explore different strategies for a collaborative performance interface:
Mind Your Own Business (2013) is a piece by Jonas Hummel which entangles different elements of electronic sound performance amongst the group. No one can play without anyone else. Each performer only has part-control over the resulting music: rhythm, pitch, timbre and manipulative effects are the different roles. Adding to the confusion the ensemble then swaps the designated roles throughout the course of the piece.
Controller (2014) is a collaborative laptop improvisation for 4 laptop performers and SuperCollider. The piece by Shelly Knotts explores the political dynamics of collective computer improvisation and the possibility of facilitating democratic interactions among performers. Controller comments on this democratic potential by providing an interface which varies during performance to vary the level of control of participants. The work brings to the foreground complex underlying group dynamics of interaction, with an ongoing negotiation of ‘who controls what’. The piece plays with the notion of creating a musical structure out of shifting group dynamics, with political action at the forefront of the compositional design.
BiLE’s core team of performers are: Charles Céleste Hutchins, Shelly Knotts, Holger Ballweg and Jonas Hummel. BiLE perform with live visuals by glitch artist Antonio Roberts.