Saturday, 20 December 2014

Roma Ivakov: Sunquake - 8 string track off upcoming album

Roma Ivakov - Sunquake (ft. Noyan Tokgozoglu)
Another new track off my upcoming album, enjoy! :)

Hans Van Even: Stardust Requiem - 4 years of hard work reviewed!

Hans Van Even was born in Turnhout (Belgium) on 4 June 1969. At age 11 he began playing the guitar after listening to performances by Alvin Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Page, ...

He studied classical music from the age of 14 for about 5 years (guitar with Raphaella Smiths & David de Groodt) at "RIKSO" Belgium (high school of Art & Classical Music Later he studied jazz & modern music for 3 years at "Jazz Studio" Belgium (guitar with Peter Hertmans & Hendrik Braeckman).

Hans' blitz (8 finger tapping fun)

At this period, his group played opening gigs for artists like Joe Cocker, Christopher Cross and John Miles and recorded a session guitarist for some Belgian artists. In January 1993 he moved to France to join the fusion-jazz group Stolen. With Stolen he played opening acts for Mike Stern and André Ceccarelli among others.

From 1993-2000, Hans has taught guitar and improvisation at CIAM ( college of contemporary music in Bordeaux, France). He appeared in the Guitarist magizine (France) in September 1998 & in GuitarXtreme (France) in 2010

Since 2000 he has played with numerous artists and did demonstrations for brands like Washburn, Roland, Randall, Blackstar Amplification, ... and played in Japan, Musikmesse, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium and is currently endorsed by Siggi Braun guitars and Blackstar Amplifiers.

He just released his first solo CD called Stardust Requiem, a 77 minutes voyage travelling many styles, with two of his favourite guitarists, Tony MacAlpine and Brett Garsed, on guest solos.

Hans Van Even - Guitars
Christine Lanusse - Bass
Xavier Richard - Drums
Olivier Sousbie - Keys

Stardust Requiem

Tony MacAlpine - guitar
Brett Garsed - guitar
Marc Dall'Anese - orchestral arrangements
Garlo - Vent de guitares
Goran Vujic - Bass guitars
Philippe Ravez - Drums
Leo Isnard - Drums
Michel Fourcade - Drums
Eugene Berger, Feodor Dosumov, Xavier Martinez, Olivier Sousbie - solos

01. Angeli Ex Galaxia
02. Stardust Requiem (feat. Tony MacAlpine)
03. Tribute (feat. Brett Garsed)
04. N-Land
05. Mystic Tale
06. Flight of the Belgian Bumble Bee
07. The Space is crying
08. The Fifth Gate
09. Walking in the Air
10. Tribal
11. Tapping into Eternity
12. Red Sun
13. Glasssy Sky
14. Hans' Blues
15. From the Stars
16. Song for Ewena
17. Farewell Overture
18. Farewell Theme
19. Farewell Final

Stardust Requiem is a big album featuring 77 minutes of music forged into 19 tracks of guitar goodness. The album was written, recorded and produced over a 4 year period rather than a week long stint in the studio. Fans will know that Hans Van Even incorporates a super smooth tapping style into his everyday guitar vocabulary, so I knew right off the bat I would be interested in this release, combined with the fact I have tried to film Hans Van Even over a number of years during the annual Musikmesse show in Frankfurt... but failed miserably!

As mentioned earlier, Hans includes guest solos from Tony MacAlpine and Brett Garsed on the tracks Stardust Requiem and Tribute,  plus  more solos from the outstanding Feodor Dosumov, Jean Fontanille, Eugene Berger.

Tony MacAlpine features on the melodic Stardust Requiem with a call and response type solo barrage, a track that has a particularly memorable melody line.  Brett Garsed is more understated, but nonetheless effective packing in the guitar fire power  during the track Tribute. In fact, I can tell you, I would have bought the album for these two tracks alone, but I am glad to say that the album is much more than that and should entertain over repeated plays, but at 77 minutes, probably not a one sitting.

This is not just a straight rock album, tracks like The Fifth Gate and  N-Land show a great musical breadth, where Hans plays some of his smooth guitar solo work over a kind of breakbeat and a reggae back ground.

Add to that his version of the classic "Walking in the Air" where his use of the harmonics and bar really shine, capturing the essence and spirit of the famous Christmas show flight... this is one I would really like to see as a live performance.

There are also a number of more thematic film pieces too.  The album has an organic meandering flow, which, on the whole, can be an entertaining thing as music smoothly flips between genres, from rock, to blues, to progress and I particularly liked the more fusion orientated Red Sun.

Production quality is very high quality and probably reflects the albums 4 year gestation period, with things being well polished. Overall the album is a reflection of the strength and breadth of Hans Van Even's guitar skills and I expect that he must get regular calls for session musician work.   I have to admire that amount of dedication from Hans, it must be really difficult to let go of something that has been such a big part of  your life.

Siggi Braun - "HVE Stardust" signature guitar - heavy fire demo

I managed to catch up with Hans to get some more detail on the album

How long did it take you to record the album?

"Stardust Requiem" took ~4 years to record, mostly due to other work besides the CD and also because I decided to do most of the production part myself, which was not always a good idea, but glad I managed to finally finish it.

How did you know when you had finished the album?

I didn't have a real plan, the CD kept growing (more and more tunes and more people involved) and I kept working on it until found that it was good enough. I feel the process of making a CD is more like giving birth to something, you have to wait until it's ready you can't force the nature of it.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I'm not easily happy with the result of a tune, once I have a good musical idea for a tune, then the arranging process comes in action which is also important because it's the packaging part of a tune. I often trash stuff and try new things until it sounds good for me. If the end result isn't good enough then I stock it for later or just trash it.

How do you decide what is going into a track and how do you name it?

I usually work on different tracks at once, record small ideas and come back to them later when I have time or inspiration to finish the basic ideas. I try to record interesting riffs I come across when playing guitar. Usually the best ideas come when I'm driving in a car or jogging.

What equipment did you use in the studio?

My studio set-up is really basic, a small home studio. I use a PC (with Reaper or Cubase) and lots of virtual instruments. I've used a lot of different set-ups in the past and honestly it's becoming smaller and smaller, the only things that really gets bigger is my sound library and virtual instruments. Here is the list of my main tools in the studio right now.

- Guitars : Siggi Braun signature (main guitar)
- Amp : Blackstar S1046L6 head + 2x12" V30 speakers
- Guitar Rig for the speaker simulations and effects during recording
- Yamaha monitors + sub
- Midi keyboard
- Yamaha midi drum
- PC with Reaper and Cubase
Siggi Braun HVE Stardust
Siggi Braun HVE Stardust

• Corina Body + beautiful quilted a carved maple top with blue stardust finish
• Striped Hard maple, Pau Ferro and Amaranth neck  
• Siggi Braun CNS- neck joint System (makes a bolt on neck sound close to a neck tru) 
• Ebony fretboard, Custom Pearl Inlays + Jumbo frets
• Hipshot Contour Tremolo which in combination with 
• LSR Rollernut
• Sperzel Tremlock Tuners
• Dimarzio Blue Transition PU´s
• Shadow NANOMAG neck PU + preamp
• 5 position Megaswitch
• Two distinctive outputs one for acoustic and electric sounds

This model will be available with all exact same features as my own guitar from the Siggi Braun website here in a few weeks:

Hans Van Even: When recording my CD Stardust Requiem, I lost quite a lot of hours testing out different set-ups. Finally, I ended up doing most solos and leads with Guitar Rig 5 from Native Instruments after listening to a demo from a friend Xavier Martinez from Washburn (who had a really awesome tone and by the way who plays an amazing solo on Hans' Blues!) which saved me hours of work. While Guitar Rig gave very good results, just listen to the CD, I now prefer to use this set-up which I find very flexible and easy to work with. It has the advantage of having the full sound of my Blackstar tube amp, so better dynamics vs modeling only, and I use Guitar Rig to model the cabinet sounds and some post effects like Delay or Reverb. What's cool, is that you can have as many cabs as you want, it's inexpensive and it's much more flexible then using microphones. The diagram shows both my recording and live paths. You may wonder what the Behringer Ultra-G does there into the path ... it allows you to capture the full sound of the tube amp (not just the preamp!) just before going to the cab while keeping the monitoring from your amp and it's ridiculously cheap. I really hope I can start using this recording setup for live playing too. I thought it would be cool to share it with you so I made a diagram of it so you can see how I set up everything for myself, hopefully you can make some good use it it!

Here's a diagram of my setup
Hans Van Even - gear set up

How did you record the drums for the album?

I recorded the Drums with a midi drum system from Yamaha. I bought this especially for the CD and sold it when the CD was finished. It was used just to trigger Superior Drums from Toontrack and also Session Drummer from Native Instruments. So all drummers came to my studio and from there we edited the parts until it sounded good.

Do you approach an album as though it is you meister work?

I think I spent way too much time for this CD, you really want to make it the best you can and most of the time a first project is what stays in peoples minds. Sometimes you just go too deep into things and it becomes a really hard process. I'll probably do another CD but will do things differently and try to be a little easier with myself.

When the album is done how do you feel about it?

Once everything was done, I remember I wasn't happy with the results. A good friend of me, Garlo who did the "Wind of guitars" parts of the CD, helped me with the lasts bits, I was just too much into details during mixing and mastering and wasn't objective any more. I think it took me a few months before I could say I was somewhat happy with the CD and listen to it again but it's there, feedback has been great so it's OK for me, but I don't like to listen to it that much, time to move on to new things.

Quick jazz fusion improvisation with my new Siggi Braun guitar & Blackstar S104 6L6 head

Did you have a budget for the album?

While I had the budget to do everything and spend it over a few years to record everything, but I forgot that the last part was actually the most expensive as you have to pay quite a lot of things to get it right (SDRM authorization, Mastering, which is really expensive and most people forget that it's the part that can make your hard work sounds awful or very good!, CD Presage, musicians, ...) I used a fundraising with Indiegogo to finance the last part and had to borrow some money to be able to finish it all.

How did you go about your promotion strategy?

Fortunately I did all the graphics designs myself but didn't know the promotion part was that hard to do. I mean if you decide to do everything yourself for budget reasons like myself. Next time I'll ask someone else to take care of it, because you end up doing a lot of stuff instead of playing guitar and this has been the most painful and frustrating part of the record for me.

How did you decide what the album title and design would be?

The album/design and title came really naturally, and I did it along the composing and recording process, so when the CD was finished I had everything almost ready. The CD design is important as people will often see your cover before they actually listen to it.

What were your musical influences on this album?

This CD is somewhat a compilation of everything that has influenced me over the last 20 years. Some compositions are old, some new. Some people will appreciate the diversity, others won't, for me the CD reflects the way I listen to music, I can't listen to just one style of music. There have a been a lot of influences on this album, maybe I could also have called the CD "Inspiration" because of all the artists who influenced me. The influences come from Hans Zimmer, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Allan Holdsworth, Joe Satriani, Van Halen, Tony MacAlpine, Brett Garsed, Chick Corea, Jennifer Batten, Eric Johnson, Dream Theater, Pat Metheny, and many others. Besides the influences the CD has an important message and also reflects my vision and meditation of life.

Here's a free Lick for you to learn (score, tabs + audio in normal and slowdown speeds) of the long synth and guitar Interlude on the title track "Stardust Requiem". You can download the lick here

Hope you'll like it!

Important links