The naïve appeal is that you can play multiple guitar parts at one time: The digital, one-man band. But the digital, one-man band is more than just playing along to recordings, so long as the DOMB performs the recording act on the stage. Last night, JBM played the Bowery Ballroom. We missed the opening. There appeared to be at least one pre-recorded track in his looping station, but we can forgive that because of his masterful way of weaving recording-events, as opposed to recorded-events, into his performance.
There is a sense in which a recorded event becomes something new when part of a performance, and we all understand what this looks like. There is a sense in which a performance becomes something entirely new as a recorded document (see below). Every recorded document is a performance, but even a live recording remains a recorded document, an artifact, when left to itself. It will undergo various mutations and permutations depending upon when and where it’s played; it will have a different sense at each listen, but in most cases it remains an artifact.
What makes a performer like JBM so interesting is that the recording event and the performance become one-and-the-same thing: the performance is recorded and the recording act is performed simultaneously. They are so intimately intertwined that at times it is impossible to tell them apart. Sight and sound deceive even the most attuned. But deception of this ilk is precisely the moment in which a performer like JBM reveals his brilliance as the digital, one-man band.