Reviewed: Mad Professor Fire Red Fuzz
Way back when, not long after the dawn of rock and roll, there lived a number of now notorious lunatics. History has since updated their collective noun to genii thanks to the popularity and longevity of their wayward yet profound sonic experimentation. Whether you call them maniacs or masterminds, the fact remains that anyone rampant enough to put a pocketknife through the speaker cone of an amp that these days we covet as a holy relic is at the very least pushing an envelope few would dare to approach. Still, where would we be without these glorious mavens? Hendrix would never have tuned in and fuzzed out; Clapton would’ve never rolled off his entire top end and basked in the sunshine of all of our love. They in turn would never have given birth to latter day torchbearers like Josh Homme et al. whose wild-eyed, fuzzy snarl gives rise for Mad Professor to manufacture the perfectly imperfect Fire Red Fuzz.
Reviewed: TC Electronic Crescendo Autoswell, Tube Pilot Overdrive, and Iron Curtain Noise Gate
Imagine what the world would be like without our ability to see colour. Were the richness and fullness of all creation flattened to duotones as appears in silent movies, would we be so inclined to seek out more of it? In a way, the invention and proliferation of technicolour techniques to the film world reads as a metaphor for what I am asking. Once the full spectrum was loosed upon the unsuspecting public, the rate of change was palpable. It was as if suddenly there was a whole new way for us to describe our world to ourselves. To a point, the guitar world has a similarly poetic paradigm shift in its history, that of the invention and proliferation of the humble effects pedal. Small, sturdy, varyingly affordable and thick with every sound imaginable, pedals are the Pantone or Technicolour of the medium of sound and companies like TC Electronic are continually seeking new ways to help us describe our everything.
Reviewed: EarthQuaker Devices Westwood Overdrive
A word of warning before I dive in: this review will be chock-a-block full of the most mercurial and indefinite adjectives in the thesaurus. This, ladies, gentlemen and others, is a review of … an overdrive pedal.
Reviewed: MoogerFooger MF-107 FreqBox
For those of you who are not entirely familiar with the MoogerFooger range of pedals from Moog Music, you are really in for a treat with this fun tool. The MF-107 FreqBox is big, brash and full of attitude, allowing you to integrate your synthesisers for additional filter options. But the real fun comes when you get the MF-107 into your guitar signal chain and really start experimenting with your playing and making the features of this outlandish pedal stand out. This is not just your typical envelope filter pedal that offers that same sound we’ve all heard time and time again. This thing will mess your tone up and spit it out at a different frequency to what you intended, if you let it. But if you can tame the beast, some really cool sounds can be achieved.
Reviewed: Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal
As a company Ernie Ball has always positioned itself as the young upstart on the market. The peak of their popularity came hand in hand with the rise of southern Californian pop punk in the late ‘90s. Even on the occasion of their 40th anniversary much of the marketing is peppered with rapacious youthfulness. Checkerboard Vans shoes, brightly coloured gaffer tape and scrawled, handwritten logos render the company the Bart Simpson to their competitors Mr. Burns, the brackish provocateur skateboarding just ahead of the old guard. Be that as it may, they are four decades into their lifetime and have not shied away from the wisdom that comes with age. Aside from their neon packaged string sets, their most popular design has been their line of volume and expression pedals and what better way to celebrate the big four zero than to do a better version of what they do best.
Reviewed: TC Electronic Quintessence Harmony pedal
Just when you thought every possible avenue of weirdness and tone bending had been explored, along come the Scandinavians. There must be something in the water along the northern European coast that makes its inhabitants relentless explorers. From Viking invaders up through renaissance upheaval to the boundless creativity of modern design, there is no frontier too intimidating for these powerful minds to cross. TC Electronic has been to the music world what The Bauhaus was to furniture design, consistently turning pre-existing thought on its head to see what else they can come up with. Their takes on classic distortion and delay sounds are concurrently more interesting and subtle than ever before, and it doesn’t end there. In their newest stompbox, the Quintessence Harmony Pedal, TC Electronic have found a way to stretch the outer reaches of pitch shifting technology in such a way as to leave just about every other iteration in the dust.
Reviewed: T-Rex Effects Shafter Wah-Wah Pedal
If ever there were a pedal based effect that was difficult for me to put my finger on, it’d have to be wah. Call me immature, but every time I have a long-board at my feet I can’t help but imitate the cheesy, rhythmic chant that populates the background of so many blue movies from the 70’s. I wish that I could take it seriously enough to find space for the rapid-fire tonal opportunity that these units offer, but I just can’t for the life of me get my mind out of the gutter. If ever there was a wah that would rescue me from myself, however, T-Rex’s new design The Shafter has a shot at the title.
Reviewed: T-Rex Effects Mudhoney II distortion pedal
Here’s an embarrassing story for you all. As a precocious child who had just started stringing three chords together on my first electric guitar, I remember having a dream that I’d started a band that was destined to return grunge music to its rightful place as the king of genres. In this imaginary, post-Nirvana future, I was going to be the one to remind people of the power of loud music and rescue them from their addiction to saleable, saccharine swill. Skip a few years down the track and it seems people never really forgot it in the first place. Kids still come into my place of employ with White Zombie patches on their army disposal store backpacks and bands like Violent Soho ignite mosh pits every time they spew forth an impassioned, ‘Hell, fuck yeah’. The effect that the early 90’s Seattle music scene had on the world is so lasting and profound that some thirty years later a Danish company sees fit to produce a pedal dedicated to one of its chief proponents.