BEAUTIFULLY UGLY MUSICAL NOISE

BEAUTIFULLY UGLY MUSICAL NOISE

There’s no way I could have anticipated enjoying this new Counter Current dirty reverb so much. This is one of those pedals that makes you raise an eyebrow and silently mouth the word “wow” from the moment you engage. Dark depths of reverb saturate the speaker, not silky smooth, more like velour. There’s something lurking there, down deep.

With subtle twists and turns, the pedal slowly comes alive, revealing it’s complexity and beautifully ugly nature. The Drive only affects the reverb, not the clean input, and my Telecaster stands sparkling in the center of the Counter Current’s swirling, distorted reverberations. With the feedback knob set at about 10 o’clock, engaging the momentary feedback control releases a beast from the depths. The reverb blossoms into a controlled harmonic feedback that sings and sustains under the slow arpeggiations of the guitar. Turning the Drive control down backs off the feedback, but it’s swirling down deep still. With a twist in the opposite direction, the feedback emerges again, unstable and wild, yet somehow under control and reacting to the attack of the guitar strings and even to the notes themselves. This is truly beautiful noise!

For my next experiment today, I’ve decided to take the road less traveled, and connect my upright bass to the Counter Current. I’ve got a pickup called The Realist (made by David Gage here in NYC) installed under the bridge on my bass, and I’ve set up a nice ribbon mic to capture the room. I haven’t touched the Counter Current, so the settings are the same as in my previous experiment with the Tele. From the moment the bow hits the strings, I am transfixed. The combination of lower register notes and varying input gain from the pick-up and bow is causing the pedal to react very differently than with the guitar. The reverb and feedback toss and turn in tumult around the bowed bass notes, blossoming into gorgeous sustained overtones, then diving deep into chaos before resurfacing again. The harmonic feedback changes with each note, picking up and sustaining different pitches from the fundamental and creating a distorted reflection of the melody I’m playing. The perfect counterpoint to my phrases whispers, then screams in the background, forcing my ear in different directions.

There’s no way I could have anticipated enjoying this pedal so much. It took me by surprise, leapt out at me from the dark, and left me wanting to plug in and experiment into the night. This is a very musical and unique effect that, I anticipate, will stay on my board for a long while.

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