About this album - The Loop Station
When I perform live background music, I use of the Boss RC-50 loop station. I've been experimenting with for the past 4 years and have had a great time trying to create music within this framework. The loop station allows me to record phrases, chords, and beats and layer them at will in performance. All of the sounds on this album were created using only electric, acoustic, and bass guitars.
There were three methods that I used to record the sounds on this album. For sound quality purposes, all of the tracks on this recording were recorded without using the loop station directly. Only Glacial Lake was recorded live and direct from the loop station. Otherwise, I would copy the files from the loop station to the computer and copy them into an arrangement that would mimic the way the loop station works. All of the Live at... songs were recorded this way. The rest were recorded directly to the computer itself where I would create 'loops' using segments of equal length.
This album is a document of my experiments with this intriguing technology.
She's Like the Swallow - traditional
I've been enthralled with this Canadian folk-song ever since I heard Melanie Doane perform it live at a tiny bar in Montreal in the early '90's. Folk music to me at that time was something that old people played and made little impression on me. Melanie's great arrangement updated it and it suddenly came alive for me. I love playing this song live and frequently open with it, which is why it's the first song on the album.
Live at Poplar Grove
Like all of the "Live at..." songs on this album, these loops were performed and saved at the location in the title. In this case, at Poplar Grove Estate Winery in Penticton, BC. I was asked to perform in their wine shop on a busy Saturday during the fall wine festival. It's a big, bright room with a stunning view of the valley. The beats and electronic-sounding bass was inspired by the party atmosphere that day.
This is one of the first long-form compositions that I did using the loop station in rehearsal. It evolved organically over the years to encompass the multiple layered parts that are on this recording. Past versions have also served as the theme song to my podcast at Winecountrybc.ca.
This one was composed entirely in the studio with my Fender Jazz 5-string bass. I wanted to try to build a song with dynamics using the bass as a centerpiece. The two playing techniques (slapping and fingers) fill out a wide frequency range and the "drum" part (me hitting my acoustic guitar) keeps the song moving along.
Taking the basic chord progression from the first Gymnopédie, a minimalistic series of piano compositions by Erik Satie, I added a melody to create a relaxing soundscape.
The title track from the album builds on the image of strandlines (essentially parallel lines etched onto a mountain by ancients glacial lakes). The chords and melody both move in this same parallel motion and both with perfect intervals (5ths for the chords, 4ths for the melody). The "drums" and bass lines make it groove.
This was recorded entirely in one shot from beginning to end with no overdubbing or extra tracks of any kind. It's the only track that made the cut that was recorded in this way. The placidly flowing loops and chords were originally improvised at a gig. I just played a newly improvised material over it and thankfully pushed record before I did.
Live at Wild Goose
The loops were recorded live on the new back deck of Wild Goose Winery in Okanagan Falls, BC during an event in 2012. It was a beautiful location with lots of great food and great people. You can even hear some of the background ambiance on the drum track if you listen carefully.
Un Canadien Errant
Another folk song, this time from French Canada written about people forced to leave their homes after the rebellions. I've always loved the melody of this song and so I arranged a jazzier version of the chord sequence as accompaniment.
Live at Walnut Beach
Another party-inspired tune with loops recorded at an event at the Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos, BC on a beautifully warm, sunny spring afternoon in April 2012.
Every music student in university-level theory and history at some point learns about basso ostinato or ground bass, a compositional technique that uses a repeated bass part as the foundation for a melody. The most famous example of this was an aria from Henry Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas". On cogitating the loop station's potential, it occurred to me that it was perfect for performing this ostinato part. I dug out my theory notes and created my own arrangement. As slow as it sounds, it is actually a good clip faster than the operatic versions that I have heard.
Live at Terrafina
A small, cozy, and intimate room, Terrafina Restaurant in Oliver, BC has been a welcoming place for me since it opened in 2011. The tracks were recorded there at a dinner in 2012.
Probably the oldest original song in this collection, early demos of my solo work have always included this song and it made the cut again this time. A standard of my live performances, this is when I can take a break from the guitar and switch to the bass for a while.
Live at Nk'Mip
I've played at Nk'Mip Winery in Osoyoos, BC more than any other location with this solo instrumental music. It's a beautiful, barrel-vaulted room that has the most amazing sunsets. The chord loop was likely recorded towards the end of an evening following a wine maker's dinner.
A more experimental piece, this is made up entirely of loops - no melodies - that perhaps reflects a need to use the studio as an instrument of its own.