I tend to think of things in reference to a chronology of gear purchases. Like, "Oh yeah, we had just gotten that mic when we tracked those vocals!" Along those same lines, my studio's chronology seems to be divided thusly: pre-Moog, and post- Moog. Sure, I've had tons of Moogs in and out of my place, and I got my Moog Source when I was 23, but it wasn't until Holy Fuck, this band I tour with, got asked to do Moogfest 2011 that a very important phase began here at High Bias and for me as an engineer. I bought a Moog Voyager [Tape Op #40] when I shouldn't have. I was pretty broke, and it took me a year to pay back the loan - to my then girlfriend, now fiancé. Yeah. After the initial week of me being immobilized by it, in a way that would rival what the Atari 5200 did to me when I was in middle school, I was struck with the fact that I spent more on the Voyager than I had on my car, not to mention my tape machine. I was sure it would get used, just not very often. I was totally wrong. That thing has been on most of the records that have come out of here! Since then, I have slowly acquired every Moogerfooger, with the exception of the delay, with the same trepidation - but ultimately with the same results. I skipped the delay as a reverse justification for the literal mountain of Space Echoes and other boxes I have. Again, I was wrong. When the Moog 500-series Analog Delay arrived, I had the same old reaction - leading to the same results.
The Analog Delay, like every Moog product, is solidly built and looks supercool. I installed it in a Purple Audio Sweet Ten rack [reviewed in this issue], sent it aux 3 from my Sony MXP console, and returned it to channel 28. It has remained patched in since - I kid you not. I was worried about writing a review about a delay - I mean, what can you say? It sounds great. True. It's dark and musical like the MF-104 version. Also true. It also costs $899. Yep. And it's worth every penny.
I first heard the Moog Analog Delay while taking a break from mixing Shigeto's new record. I brought up WIXIW by Liars on the speakers, and I decided to send some of the track to the delay. We were floored. WIXIW is a total stunner, and it sounds crushing in its own right, but I was instantly in some sort of other spatial reality. I sat there for 30 minutes pretending I was "The Scientist" dubbing the crap out of my friends' record. While I'm glad no one will ever hear the results, it's telling that I was moved to sit there for that long after working all day. Something about how dark the Analog Delay is really adds to the space. The next day, I had a vocal session with the band Feelings. I almost always run a channel of outboard reverb during tracking for comfort's sake. I always record it, and it usually gets used! I pulled up the channel with the Analog Delay, and we were all super stoked. Since then, I record a track of Analog Delay with most every vocal, when appropriate.
A few days later, during trumpet overdubs for a Frontier Ruckus album, Zachary Nichols wanted to hear a little space around his horn. We tried a few reverbs, and he kept saying, "Not reverb. Space!" I set the delay time on the Moog to around 80 ms and the feedback to zero, pulled up the fader, and he exclaimed, "That's it!" At shorter delay times with lower feedback settings, the Analog Delay adds a real sense of space without being overbearing. This is probably due to the fact that it is the darkest delay I've ever heard. If you solo it alone, it sounds really muffled - bordering on wrong. You put it in the mix, and something magical happens. Every time I pull it up, someone asks, "What is THAT?!" Anyway, we tracked piano, vocals, banjo, and hand percussion that day. All of these had some amount of Analog Delay committed on a separate track. And on piano, it yielded some straight-up Their Satanic Majesties Request vibes. Super cool!
The front panel of the Analog Delay shares the same controls as the now-legendary Moogerfooger MF-104 family, plus a tap/CV input and a MIDI input, minus the LFO. However, LFO is available via software control, along with a myriad of other settings. MIDI is not my strong suit, to say the least, so I was a tad apprehensive about using the editor. But setup was super easy, and I was blown away by the features unlocked by software. You get access to the following: a bright/dark switch, advanced time features beyond what's available from the front panel, access to the LFO rate, amount, and shape, along with a sync switch; LFO clock division with slew rate and duty cycle; and everything else you could possibly need in regards to the tap/CV input and MIDI control settings. You can also enable linking between two boxes should you have more than one in your rack. These features are all available through the standalone editor and the plug-in. Yep, you heard me right - the Moog Analog Delay can be controlled by a plug-in too! Using Logic Pro, I was able to dial in exactly what effect I wanted and automate things like feedback and LFO via the plug-in - a total game-changer for me.
The above is just me scratching the surface of this deep and musical box! In the months that followed, I used the Analog Delay for tons of other things. For example, I was lucky to do an overdub session with Xiao Dong Wei, who is classically trained on the erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument. She is super open-minded, so we printed a track of me tripping out her beautiful playing. The tone of her instrument blended perfectly with the real-time Analog Delay manipulations. And during a recent mix session, I stumbled upon a totally unexpected plus - with an Analog Delay pair patched into the guitar bus slots, I was stunned by the slight girth added by these guys set totally dry - perfect for the guitars!
As time goes on, I'm finding more and more reasons to love the Moog Analog Delay. This has been the trajectory with every piece of Moog gear I've owned - from the Voyager to the Minitaur to the Cluster Flux. I buy the gear thinking I'll use it some, knowing it's cool, then the more I actually use it, it works its way into my everyday workflow until I can't imagine how I made records without it!
($899 street; www.moogmusic.com)