Tales from El Capistan is the latest release from Los Angeles guitarist and ambient composer Saint Luminus AKA William Rustrum. It is a collection of original music created using guitars, voice, synth, and only one pedal, El Capistan. Rustrum decided to crowd fund the project earlier in the year because he wanted to share the creative process with the public. Not only has the project met its initial pledge goal but it has exceeded it by 40%!
You can still pre-order the EP here. One of the many perks you’ll receive by pledging/pre-ordering is access to Rustrum’s video updates documenting the process and evolution of the tracks he’s creating. It’s interesting to see and hear the different sounds and effects creates using El Cap, especially with vocals and synth.
Rustrum recently took some time out to chat with us about the new EP as well as a few of the settings he’s using to create it. Read on and enjoy!
How did you end up choosing El Cap for the new EP?
After playing with El Capistan for some time and discovering many of its capabilities, I realized I can write at least a whole EP of music with just this pedal. Yes, there are that many different sounds and effects which can be coaxed out of El Capistan.
Guitarists love using lots of pedals and when I told other guitar player friends about my crazy idea of doing an EP using just my guitar, my amp, and El Capistan, they all smirked. Just one pedal, huh? Their shaking of heads and raising of eyebrows told me I was on the right track to creating something different here. So what better name for the EP than, Tales from El Capistan?”
I consider El Capistan an active and expressive device rather than a passive and static device. It’s awesome for sound design and expressiveness where you run a sound through it and actively turn the knobs to morph your sound. An expression pedal helps if your hands are busy playing guitar. But how about running a synth through it? A vocal? A drum kit? Endless possibilities.
Talk us through a few of the settings we’ll hear on Tales From El Capistan.
Can I get a chorus? These settings show I can get a unique chorus sound out of El Capistan. The Wow & Flutter knob will add tape style pitch modulation. But due to its randomness, I won’t get a predictable and boring modulation.
I have a synth with sequenced eighth notes feeding El Capistan. Notice the Repeats knob is not maxed out, but jacking that bad boy up to max suddenly creates a different pulsing texture as the pedal starts to self-oscillate. After a couple of seconds, I then bring the Repeats back down to hear my original Berlin Style sequence. Taking this idea further, for the end of one of my songs I jacked up the Repeats to max, let it pump in self-oscillation, turned up the Mix to maximum and turned down the volume of the sequenced synth part. Then slowly turned down the Mix knob for a sweet complicated fade out of aural goodness.
Long delay settings for those ambient phrases. In this case, using the Multi-head settings add nice dual rhythmic delays. With the repeats knob turned up, the repeats slowly disappear in an oscillating diffuse smearing of repeats. If I add an expression pedal to slowly and slightly adjust the delay time, those repeats will be slightly detuned. This is one reason why I love the Fixed head setting.
Slapback delay? Surely! What I love about El Capistan is that I can mold the tone of the Slapback. Personally, I don’t like slapback delay much because it’s just too bright for my tastes. But turning up the Tape Age knob to about halfway darkens the delay to where I feel it tucks in nicely just under my dry tone. But wait, turning up the Wow & Flutter does such cool unpredictable modulation for those held notes. I love not knowing exactly what will happen, but I know it will sound sweet!
Post a video or clip online playing these presets, and please share by tagging #strymonpreset. Are there other preset/favorite types that you’d like to see in upcoming blog posts? Let us know what you think. Thanks!