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.

announcing CTRL4 + CTRL8: MIDI Control for Griffin PowerMate + PureData

Joshua Schnable has been working on a new controller idea, and chromedecay is proud to announce its availability.

CTRL4 & CTRL8: MIDI Control for the Griffin PowerMate + PureData lets you turn a Griffin Powermate into a flexible MIDI controller. The video below gives a very brief introduction to how this software works:

FIRST LOOK: Joshua Schnable’s CTRL8 Powermate/PD control software from chromedecay on Vimeo.

In short, this setup allows you to use a Griffin PowerMate (the aluminum knob that glows blue and outputs keystrokes/key commands) with the free, open-source PureData software in order to turn it into a 4- or 8-channel MIDI knob controller. More detailed videos will be coming soon, or you can check out the manual for more information.

studio production update

Here’s an update on the studio production side of things.

Slow but steady progress is being made on upcoming Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable material. Still undecided whether it will be released as several EPs or one full-length album, but the music is coming together nicely. Tracks keep getting handed back & forth via the power of the interwebs, with new pieces slowly taking shape.

Bill Van Loo solo material is also coming along, albeit at an even slower pace. Here’s a sneak peek at a new track that’s made almost entirely with iPod Touch applications as the sound sources; this (very rough) track uses SynthPond and BeBot Robot Synth as the primary sound sources, with additional post-production & arrangement in Ableton Live.

BeBot Robot Synth -> new track in Ableton Live
iPod Touch apps -> new track

BeatMaker on the iPod Touch is also getting used, along with a new ThumbTacks mic; here’s a (also extremely rough) snippet using only sounds recorded in the car, garage & front porch:

iPod Touch with Thumbtacks mic

a look back at 2008

Here we are at the start of a new year, so it seems worth taking a look back at the events of 2008. The next blog post will be a look forward at what to expect from chromedecay in 2009.

2008 was an extremely visuals-oriented year for chromedecay. Besides one digital release (Bubblegone’s excellent “Record of Memory (Live)“) and the Sync08 performance from Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable (see photos, video), the public output of chromedecay was otherwise visual.

Here’s a quick look back at the chromedecay year for 2008:

January 2008

January 2008 started off strong on the visual front, taking lots of photos.
the blur of passing cars
above: first photo of 2008

Another big development was the beginning of explorations in Processing, the fantastic visual programming environment.

processing sketch: many circles v1 (reds)
above: processing sketch: many circles v1 (reds)

February 2008
Bill Van Loo contributed the “chicago slow down (el trains remix)” for Canasta’s “We Were Mixed Up” remix album.

programming drums with the Trigger Finger
above: Bill Van Loo programming drums for the Canasta remix

skateboarder with hydrant
above: a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah yielded an excellent photo-walk!

March 2008
On Friday, March 14, 2008, Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable performed at the Sync08 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can see photos and video from this performance.

Bill Van Loo & J. Schnable - live at Sync08
above: Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable perform at Sync08

April 2008
Bubblegone’s excellent “Record of Memory (Live)” was released in April 2008, marking this talented artist’s first release on chromedecay. Bubblegone has performed at events with Bill Van Loo solo and the duo of Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable several times, so it was particularly exciting to have him join up!

Record of Memory (Live) cover art
above: artwork for Bubblegone’s “Record of Memory (Live)”

May 2008
May saw a studio session with Joshua Schnable, working on new material for future release.

quadruptych: bill van loo & j. schnable studio session
above: Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schnable in the chromedecay studio

June 2008
Continuing the visual domination of 2008, June 2008 marked the arrival of a new camera! Bill Van Loo took delivery of a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, and quickly began putting it to good use.

First FZ18 shots: in-camera motion blur
above: one of the first shots with the new DMC-FZ18

The real news for June, however, was the wedding of Joshua Schnable! Congratulations, Josh! See photos here and here

above: Bill Van Loo & Joshua Schable at Josh’s wedding

July 2008
A day trip to Chicago yielded a new chromedecay video, with black & white footage set to moody beats.

above: “chicago (as seen by car)” video

August 2008
There was lots of photo-taking during the summer months, including more experiments in long exposures.

I-94 lightstream
above: I-94 lightstream

September 2008
Just a few short months after Joshua Schnable got married, longtime chromedecay contributor and supporter Rob Theakston got married in scenic Lexington, Kentucky. Congratulations, Rob!

tablecloth (wedding abstract)
above: tablecloth (wedding abstract)

October 2008
Photographic experiments continued, as material was gathered for upcoming chromedecay photo and video releases.

michigan avenue, ypsilanti
above: a section of Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti

November 2008
Here’s a favorite photo from November.

morning commute
above: morning commute

December 2008
December ended with more Processing work and photography.

rndm4 – processing sketch from chromedecay on Vimeo.
above: rndm4, made in Processing

gym mat abstract
above: gym mat abstract

Looking foward…
Next up: looking forward to 2009!