Beauty & Terror
Gore, Joe, Guitar Player
There's nothing straightforward about this new stompbox from Britain's wildest effect company. At $460 (current U.S. exchange rate), the Flanger is not only expensive, but its functions can be hard to describe, let alone master. (When was the last time a pedal came with four full pages of single-spaced instructions in which the word "warning?" appears repeatedly in blood-red ink?) The Flanger may well be the wickedest damned modulation pedal on either side of the Atlantic.
A basic flanging device delays your signal by a few milliseconds, and then modulates the delayed sound before recombining it with the direct signal. You can usually adjust the rate and depth of the modulation, and maybe the regeneration (the degree to which the modulated signal feeds back on itself).
The Lovetone box relies on the same controls, but it takes them to bloodthirsty extremes. The rate control probably goes slower and faster than any you've heard--fast enough, in fact, to spawn clangorous ring-modulation effects. The depth control seems to circle the moon. And high Reaction (regeneration) settings produce oscillations ranging from subliminal to apocalyptic. The Flanger is perfectly capable of generating tasteful, subtly textured phasing and flanging, but no flange pedal I know of elicits such a cacophony of bird whistles, air-raid siren squalls, and similar assault tones. Particularly scintillating are the eerie, tension-filled modulation effects that perch just on the brink of feedback.
The Ratings Game Tone Workmanship Vibe Value Lovetone Flanger ***** ****1/2 ***** **** The Rate-O-Meter: Dismal = * Excellent = *****
But there's much more to this tonal troublemaker. The same LFO that controls the sweep of the flanging and chorusing can also add a tremolo effect to the direct signal. The results are ravishing--deep, druggy pulsations that seem to suck you into the speakers. It's not like playing through a trem and a flange so much as playing a trem inside a flange. I've never heard an effect quite like it. You can also use the trem effect without flanging for a gorgeously three-dimensional throb--albeit with no way of controlling the depth. A 4-position rotary switch provides triangle- or square-wave LFOs for direct and chorus/flanger signals, and effects can be stereo or mono. …