The use of tape as a tool and technique is a common theme that emerged in Australian experimental music throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, and several examples of this are covered on Artefacts of Australian experimental music: volume ii 1974-1983, including the use of domestic tape recorders and live sampling, but one influential group deliberately harked back to the dawn of electronic music and musique concrete, adapting the use of reel-to-reel tape and loops as the sole sound source.
Co-founded in 1982 by Richard Fielding and John Blades out of their experimental radio programmes on Sydney’s 2MBS-FM, The Loop Orchestra consists exclusively of reel-to-reel tape machines playing only tape loops. Sources for these loops throughout the years have consisted of records, CDs, radio, voice and environmental recordings. Orchestra members operate the tape machines, another member operates a mixer whilst another acts as a co-ordinator (akin to the role of conductor). The video below details the Orchestra’s techniques and guiding principles.
Artefacts of Australian experimental music: volume II 1974-1983 features an excerpt from The Loop Orchestra’s very first live performance in 1982. The Orchestra remains active today with over 45 live performances and several releases behind them.