Wouter Van Belle - bio Part 4
2005 Wow & Flutter, the double solo debut
Reflecting upon his burn-out as a producer, Wouter finally began to focus on his own work. And for once, Wouter wouldn't select the songs for the album. He entrusted this job to co-producer Peter Obbels, who went through 25 CD's with 30 years worth of improvisations and demos.
In 1998 a first compilation of early recordings was made: 11 CDs filled with an array of snippets, experiments and compositions recorded on a wide variety of locations (touring as a front-of-house engineer) and studios while producing, arranging and mixing other artists albums.
Wouter: "A second box with older tape recordings was opened, containing early tape echo, ping-pong and synthesizer-experiments, and anything from childhood piano playing to the Phillicorda organ I played in a rockband. We went from 11 to 22 compilation CDs. Peter made a selection of material to work on. Then, by (re)writing, jamming and playing with drummer Karel De Backer and Elko Blijweert on guitar, compiling and editing, I finally ended up with compositions and songs. I asked partner in crime for years Marc Bonne to join on drums and to co-produce the album with Peter Obbels. We all took our time to make the best sound possible.
As a kid I was kind of addicted to the orchestral work of Andrew Powell with Cockney Rebel, Kate Bush, Pilot, Alan Parsons Project ... so in 2002 I sent him my work in progress.
I feel honoured that he connected to my music, accepted to write the arrangements and introduced me to both Jon Kelly -who mixed the album- and The London Chamber Orchestra (LCO), and that's how I finished my album in London. The final result is what I was dreaming of."
Part of Wow & Flutter got mixed on the David Gilmore's boat studio Astoria on the Thames. The double album also marked the start of Wouter's collaboration with arranger Andrew Powell, with whom he later also worked on the Laïs' album Douce Victim, and on albums from Yevgueni and Racoon.
In 2006 it was time for Powertone studio to move and change size again, from a living room to an entire building built around a new studio. New kid on the block Arno Lievens became the right hand man for the years to come.
In 2011, after 25 years the Soundcraft 1600 finally got replaced as a main mixing console, by the Focusrite Studio Console NR0007.
2011 Dutch success with Racoon
Approached by the Racoon management, Wouter took on the challenge of producing a formerly successful band that hadn't scored a hit in years. Wouter stuck to his production system. After selecting 13 out of 60 demo songs, he asked the band to rerecord them on multitrack. These new demos then got the typical treatment: together with programmer and long time collaborator Yannic Fonderie, Wouter partially restructured, rearranged and transposed the songs till they became a blueprint for the album. Racoon approved of the blueprint and started rehearsing for the recording at Powertone Studios. After satisfying recording sessions, Racoon's management gave green light for additional recordings with the London Chamber Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, arranged by Andrew Powell. Some of the live vocal takes from those London sessions made it onto the album.
With the success of Liverpool Rain, Racoon became Holland's biggest indie pop band, raking up music prizes. The album has been featuring now for two years in the Album Top 100, becoming their "Dark side of the Moon".
Wouter also produced the song "Oceaan" for a soundtrack. It's a one-off Dutch language song for Racoon, recorded in Mark Knopler's British Grove studio, and another prize winner.
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