Pedalboard update!

Since I’ve been stalled on working on my new album’s worth of material for a while (over a year, actually!), I thought it would be fun to get inspiration by pulling some gear together in a new way and adding a few new pieces together. Hence, a new pedalboard for guitar!

Here’s a video overview, and below that are some detail photos of the new setup.

 

Pedalboard Photo Gallery

Click photos for larger view.

 

Bill Van Loo solo album update: May 2012

May was a good month for working on the new record. Lots of fragments started getting more fully developed, and two studio spaces got more completely set up and ready to work in.

Here’s the monthly album update video, along with some photos from the chromedecay instagram feed.

studio work on instagram

Bill Van Loo solo album update: April 2012

This is the best summary I can show of how the work is going so far on the new solo record:

Bill Van Loo solo album: Working files

That’s 12 sketches worth of music, all of which have Ableton Live sessions started for them, tempos defined, and rough mixes rendered. That’s not to say that these are completed by any stretch – far from it! This is really just the beginning. Now begins the interesting work of fleshing out, writing, recording, and turning these sketches into compositions and songs.

Here’s the video update for this month and a few more behind-the-scenes photos.

IMG_2341

Bill Van loo solo album: PodXT Live

Bill Van loo solo album: guitar tab

Bill Van Loo solo album: March 2012 update

More work this month on the new Bill Van Loo solo record. Like February, this was also a busy month outside of music. Much of this month was spent using the Zoom H4n recorder as an audio sketchpad, capturing song and sound texture ideas in the small spaces and in-between moments of the month.

Zoom H4N

Here’s a short behind-the-scenes video from recording one of these sketches, and a few photos from the process.

I also wanted to write a few words about both the process and the concept for this record. Most of my previous work as a solo artist has been doing strictly instrumental electronic music. The biggest departures from that were the two ambient guitar records I produced (“6 strings for a winter’s day“, and “the ghost of an idea“), and even those use lots of electronic production.

As you may be able to gather from my talk of “songs”, and from all the guitar you see me playing in these videos, this new record will be a departure, or perhaps an evolution, from my electronic music. There will still be electronic production and sounds, and a big focus on the textures that are a defining part of my previous work. However, I’m really excited to work on some songs for this record.

One of the most helpful things I’ve ever read as a creative person was Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit“. In her book, Tharp talks about knowing how you see the world and how that translates in your art. I realized that I tend toward the wide-angle view, taking in textures, ambience, setting, season, and location. The titles of my previous work is a testament to that (“Autumn DSP”, “6 strings for a winter’s day”, “raindays”, etc).

This new work, in the other hand, seeks to build up that backdrop of location and ambience, and put something personal and intimate in front of that. Not everything in the record will likely have lyrics and singing, but some of it will. This is shaping up to be the most personal record I’ve ever made, and I am excited about the possibilities of it.

Bill Van Loo - tracking guitar rough ideas

PodXT Live (detail)

Bill Van Loo solo album: February 2012 update

Work continues on the new Bill Van Loo solo record, albeit at a slower pace than hoped for. This was a particularly busy month outside of music. Regardless, I was able to get a number of fragments and ideas captured, which falls nicely in line with my process thus far. Here’s a short video update and some behind-the-scenes photos.

10/52: new live recording – chromedecay live 2009

I’m pleased to announce the newest chromedecay release, “chromedecay live 2009“. This release features live performances from Bill Van Loo and Joshua Schnable.

Each of these sets was recorded in late 2009. Bill Van Loo’s set was recorded at the Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti, MI, and Joshua Schnable’s was recorded at FFMUP in Princeton, NY.

This release is available for purchase via iTunes, Amazon and other digital distribution sites. Check the release page for more details.

Joshua’s live set was recorded on October 12, 2009. It is a collection of new work; a tribute to the Berlin dub techno movement of the mid-1990s.

My live set was essentially a live performance of the Ypsilanti by Night record, with lots of live tweaks and additions, along with a rare performance of my track “FM Study”. You can view video from the first song of my live set below:

Bill Van Loo performs “Ypsilanti by Night” live at the Dreamland Theater from chromedecay on Vimeo.

See also: chromedecay behind the scenes: bill van loo live performance rig, part 1 and part 2, where the gear and methods used to perform my part of this recording are discussed in great detail.

8/52: Bill Van Loo “The Ghost of an Idea” now available digitally

I’m pleased to announce that a 4-track EP of my ambient guitar work entitled “The Ghost of an Idea” is now available for purchase digitally. This week’s project was getting a page built for it on the chromedecay site, and organizing all the other stuff associated with publicizing the record’s digital release.

This record came together at the beginning of December 2009, when my longtime friend and musical collaborator Rob Theakson sent me the following text message:

The fateful text...

That was on a Monday night, giving me 6 days to produce 21 minutes of music. Now, if this had been anybody but Rob, I would probably have laughed at the idea, and given it no further thought. However, Rob is one of my best friends (as previously mentioned) and he has a way of convincing me that crazy ideas are actually good ones.

I found myself staying late at my church on Tuesday of that week and recording a bunch of guitar improvisations after band practice ended. I had a very loose idea of what it should sound like, along with a rough conceptural framework to hang it on.

The title of the record, “The Ghost of an Idea”, is taken from the prologue of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol”; the four track titles are abbreviated forms of chapter titles. As I started thinking about the story and how it’s structured, I was inspired by the complex and emotional memories in it, as well as the idea of the Holy Ghost inhabiting and inspiring artistic works of diverse forms.

That gave me just enough to go on. I took a guitar piece I’d previously recorded for Rob but which had never been released, and that became “The First”. The other 3 pieces were based on these guitar improvisations, which were edited and layered in Logic Audio (much like “6 strings for a winter’s day“, my earlier ambient guitar work).

The cover image is a photo of a house in Ypsilanti that I took last summer:
Ypsilanti house

Once I delivered the final mixes to Rob, he quickly pressed up 50 copies of the record as a 3″ CD, which is one format that his boutique label releases music on. A number of copies made their way to me, and I sold the majority to recipients of my email list in the following week or so. I have a few left to sell at shows, but that’s it, so I realized it made sense to also offer this digitally.

After looking into my options, I found that RouteNote seemed to make the most sense for this release. Its major difference from other digital distribution companies like CDBaby (who I use for most of my digital distribution, especially for releases that are also available as physical CDs) is that RouteNote doesn’t charge a fee upfront, but instead takes a slightly larger percentage of each MP3 sold. For a release with such a small number of tracks, it would take quite a bit of sales to recoup even the $55 setup fee that CDBaby charges, so it seemed to make sense.

I’m very please that this is now available; RouteNote has distributed it to the Amazon MP3 Store and eMusic. It will be available via iTunes very soon.

You can also check out the growing selection of other releases on chromedecay, both by me and others.