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Android App Review: Looper

20 Jan 2014

Looper is a free app that lets you record and mix samples and sounds into music. It has nothing to do with the 2012 sci-fi movie starring Bruce Willis, which is a shame because that movie is great.

On New Year’s Eve I was at a party where some friends-of-friends were having enormous fun making music with some sort of recording-and-looping app on an iPhone. Being the drunken fool I am I forgot to find out what it was called, but a bit of searching found me Looper, the not-quite equivalent Android app.

It describes itself as a simple drum machine, but that would suggest using pre-recorded sounds to make beats. Rather, this is a recorder and, well, looper – you make the noises yourself, then the app repeats them, and if you’ve done it well they all line up into a neat piece of music.

By tapping on various things in my vicinity I managed to create a rhythm that sounded a bit like a very small model train. I’m sure people who are less self-conscious and more musically experimental will be able to do much more, but I felt a bit silly singing into my phone with my girlfriend in the room.

Apart from the six recording tracks themselves, you have a stop/start button, a panel that lets you know and change your metronome speed, and a button for saving your creation as an mp3 (at least on my phone this took ages, to the point where I began to wonder if it was broken. Closing and reopening the app wiped what I’d been playing with, but looking through my files the mp3 was there, in all its rattle-y glory). That’s pretty much it, though.

There really isn’t much to Looper, and while I’m all for cutting out extraneous clutter from apps, this one feels like it actually could have benefitted from a bit more. Maybe some more fading/mastering options, a tutorial, even just a menu, perhaps – there’s almost no text in the whole app, which can leave you feeling kind of bewildered when you first start playing with it. Letting people find their own way isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them just a little more of a guiding hand.

If you’re interested in making music, particularly the beatboxing/sampling end of the spectrum, then you can definitely have some fun with Looper. If you want to be the next Reggie Watts then you might need to find something a bit more comprehensive, but the limited option of this app still give you enough scope to do some experimenting.

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