Chvrches have proved just how potent that mix of electric guitars and synths can be (great vocals and songs help too) and their first pedal collaboration is a recognition of that – the Old Blood Noise Endeavours Screen Violence Stereo Saturated Modulated Reverb is designed to capture some of the dark, cinematic sounds from the Scots band's fourth album, that gleefully blur the lines. Just like the band's musicians.
"The modulation in this pedal, I guess it starts with a simple chorus, and then expands" explains Chvrches' Martin Doherty, a musician who has OBNE pedals in both his synth and guitar rigs. "By the time it gets to the maximum it's complete chaos. But it's controlled chaos, chaos you can use."
"The reason I wanted to do a pedal like this is I was using four or five pedals to achieve this particular sound," says Martin. "This sound that became a big, crucial backbone of the album, so to speak."
We love the effort OBNE have gone to with the 18-minute walkthrough video below featuring Doherty alongside fellow Chvrches members Lauren Mayberry and Ian Cook with Dan from OBNE; capturing the Screen Violence album's aesthetics and still managing to keep a tongue in cheek.
The pedal is a "distortion, spacious modulation, reverb… all blended together", and in stereo if you want.
The 'Screen' side adds everything from a slow chorus in low settings up to a doubler, then a slapback delay and multitap reverb before peaking in a "not quite infinite decay, long trail thing." Constant modulation is the vibe here.
The Mix control dialled down allows only the dry signal to come through, as it's dialled in so is the mix of dry and wet signal to create the chorus sound (with Screen control dialled in) at around 12 o'clock. When Mix is cranked, a slow pitch vibrato comes through. If the Screen control is then pushed, things get queasier.
Of course, it's worth wearing headphones for the stereo part of the demo video above (things get WIDE) when its demoed with a synth.
The guitar enters stage left for the Violence side of the pedal; a distortion inspired by outboard gear the band used, that were originally inspired by guitar amps. The Violence control is input gain – as you tun it up it adds more guitar signal and drives the gain stages.
The output Volume can then control these increases in gain, with a gain toggle that controls the amount of gain in the transistor's first gain stage. Down for lower gain and up for higher.
The pedal's Voice control is effectively its tone parameter. Unsurprisingly, it's darker dialled back and brighter as you dial it up. But it also drives the mids and highs for mid-spiked overdrive.
The sense this pedal's potential is fully realised in stereo mode is underlined by the fact it unlocks two separate distortion sections; one for each channel, However, you can stack them in mono mode by holding down both footswitches at the same time. Stacked Mode means channel one Violence drive is going into Violence Channel 2. It might get loud… and… violent.
"[With] a good stacked distortion you can get all sorts of crazy feedback, that I like to record into the computer" notes Martin. "Then I'll grab little sections of it and loop it, manipulate it and take it to a whole other place. So when we were messing around and testing the first version of the pedal we thought it would be a good idea if we had two distortion modules and when we were using the pedal in mono, the option to stack them would be super f***ing cool."
"Because sometimes one distortion isn't enough," adds Ian, sagely.
The combination with reverb and modulation in stereo mode is when Screen Violence truly shines but you can also use a toggle switch to change the order in the chain between Screen and Violence. With Screen first, the dry and wet signals are mushed together in a distorted bath, but with Violence first it can give a cleaner modulated and reverb sheen to the distortion.
The Screen Violence Stereo Saturated Modulated Reverb is available now from OBNE for $279 and the first 200 pedals will come with a signed card of authenticity.