Apr 17 2012

Rocking the mallets at Lucidity Festival 2012

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Everyone brings something glowing and unique to XyloVan.

Little kids, drunks and professional percussionists hammer at the keys in a zillion different ways. People play “Chopsticks” or “Star Wars” or “Mario Bros.” or “Claire du Lune.” They goof, explore and jam.

Their music is as diverse as their faces and lives.

But the beauty of the thing is that once they start to play – without fail – every single XyloVan-ist goes to the exact same place: a moment of personal stillness and concentration where they are completely focused on the sound their hands are making, the vibrations in time and space that make up their personal experience at that very moment.

It’s a place of utter clarity, fluidity and dynamic tension. And it is invariably beautiful and humbling for us to watch.

So – these are the videos from Lucidity Festival. If you spot yourself playing anywhere in these videos, please say hi in comments below, tell us where you came from, what kind of music you play in the “real” world, and why music is important to you.

And from the bottom of our grubby hearts, thanks to everyone who played. You are inspiring, powerful and generous with your energy. We’re really glad to have met you all and we’ll see you again very soon.


Apr 17 2012

A little night music

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This is the scene around XyloVan on Friday night at #LucidityFest. I love watching the interplay, the solo raving and overall free improvisation – and then moments of careful coordination – that occur with the random comings and goings of a festival – and particularly with this unique mix of …



Oct 3 2011

L.A. Decompression 2011 – video

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Just a little video clip here demonstrating how people can duet with each other on either side of the van.
We wired the sound so that each side of the van can hear (but not see) the other – making it sonically transparent.

Often, someone starts riffing on what comes out of the speakers, without being aware that a player on the other side of the van is their partner.


Sep 7 2011

Music in the night

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The beauty of sharing a huge musical mutant vehicle is that – at any moment – something like this can happen:


… or this …


… or this …


… or this …

Thanks to THAT Damned Band, Titanium Sporkestra,
, and all the musicians – trained, wild and accidental – who breathed life into XyloVan when we weren’t around to enjoy. You’re the reason we built it, and you’re welcome to play it any time you like.


Sep 9 2010

Bells, keys and chords in the night

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Our official site turned out to be pretty remote since we were assigned to it late (out near the Temple), but we still had visitors:

That evening, we took a circuitous route back to camp, stopping here and there to let people play:


Aug 22 2010

Sound check – Clean!

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Clean enough, anyway.

That wicked line buzz is gone. It turns out I needed to ground the mixer to the chassis, which involved tearing apart and then sewing up the 20-foot umbilical. That took a little while.

Pay no attention to my banging. I’m just banging. But it’s sounding pretty lush. And I”m excited to show it off. Thanks to everyone who pulled up and talked to us this afternoon. It’s all good.

Just a little more wiring to go.


Jul 23 2010

Backsides and elbows

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Looking back on it, the past couple weeks have been an utter blur.

After all this, and seeing all the tasks remaining (wiring, lights, instruments, sunshades, roof deck) between now and Burning Man, I have to admit that having our DMV application denied was the very best thing that could have happened to us.

So much to do, so little time, as Dean Motter’s Mister X was wont to say.

So here’s all the crazy work we’ve been up to, compressed into one massively overdue blog post:

We started in on replacing the headliner … Continue reading


Jul 12 2010

XyloVan clears its throat – Hello, World!

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I finally figured this out:

A pressure-zone microphone turns out to be the best solution for miking the keyboards on XyloVan.
Continue reading


Jul 11 2010

Fabricating the control pod

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There are two reasons for building a moveable command panel for the sound and light controls:

A) I’d like to be able to control the sound and lights from outside the van (so I can tell whether my knob-twiddling is having any effect. and B) I want to make the whole thing removable so that I can lock the van and take the junkie-bait with me whenever I park for a while.

An old Makita power-drill box is the perfect candidate for this. It’s made of blow-moulded plastic, so it’s designed to take a beating. And with a little modification, it will accommodate the mixer, all the patch cords that come in and out, and even a little switch-panel for various light circuits.

I Dremel out some of the box’s lining, which was form-fitting for a Makita power drill but would otherwise clamp down on the mixer’s knobs and jacksContinue reading


Jul 11 2010

Huevos sonicos

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If the xylophones are XyloVan’s skeleton and soul, then the sound system is its gonads.

To add some mystique to the aluminum’s natural resonance, we’re hooking up a cheap Pep Boys amplifier to the auxiliary power system, flying a quartet of cheap bookshelf speakers on outrigger booms (about which more later) and feeding them mike signals via a Behringer Xenyx digital-delay mixer. We haven’t quite figured out the microphones yet (well – more about that later).

But we have to install the components somewhere slightly out of the way yet still accessible so I can futz and troubleshoot from one location if anything goes south with the sound or lighting … Continue reading