Being an ardent fan of Effector 13 pedals, as well as someone who has the potential to lose days at a time while coaxing weirdness out of effects, I was psyched to have the chance to check out the Soda Meiser and its complex offspring, the Hymn Strangle/Synth Mangler. (Where the hell do these names come from?)
The Soda Meiser is an exquisitely over-the-top fuzz device. Housed in a small MXR-type box, it's fairly straightforward with volume and intensity knobs, as well as a chaos mode switch. In non-chaos mode and with the knobs set conservatively, you basically start out with a not-so-wooly Big Muff tone-creamy, smooth, and perfect for thick single-note passages. Crank the knobs up and things get massive. If you happen to kick in the chaos switch at this point... well, try to imagine feeding the speaker output of a Marshall into the guitar input of a Fender Twin. In the few moments before the transformer melts and you have to call the fire department, the sonic result might resemble what the Soda Meiser is capable of.
It's this chaotic behavior that really makes the Synth Mangler a thing of beauty. The Synth Mangler is basically two Soda Meisers (each separately switchable/tweakable) in one pedal-plus chaos and hiss switches for each, and an extremely cool joystick. The joystick's up/down axis controls the intensity of fuzz channel one, while the left/right controls channel two. You can imagine the fun to be had by hooking up a long delay to the proceedings and slowly sweeping the joystick around. Yeah! The joystick can be a bit hard to use if the pedal is on the floor (maybe remove your shoe and work it with your toe?), but really, the Hymn Strangle/Synth Mangler is so deep and tweakable, it's perfect for mutating keyboard sounds and best suited for tapletop use anyway.
Effector 13 gets bonus points for implementing extra-bright LEDs, high-end components, and true-bypass footswitches. Lots of great sound samples (and videos too) on their website really help you get an idea of what this ever-growing line of eccentric pedals can do. (Soda Meiser $195 MSRP, Synth Mangler $295; www.effector13.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.