I feel like it was nearly five years ago that I first saw Mod Devices Mod Duo (€649.00) at a NAMM show. It seemed like a great idea at the time: a hardware pedal that could host plug-ins. I had just begun exploring the unique sounds I could get using plug-ins on the computer in Ableton Live. These were sounds unavailable in stomp boxes at the time, but since then, more and more boutique pedal manufacturers have released the kind of granular, filtering, and ambient effects that were until now only available in the computer. Still, the Mod Duo offers both freedom from a laptop on stage, and a plethora of pedal style and plug-in style effects in a small footprint. Its open source nature also bodes well for modern sounds not yet available from stomps. What do you think?
In my recent conversation with Ralph Gibson I posited that many modern guitarists who traffic in large part in noise are nevertheless highly schooled on the instrument, whether in classical, jazz, rock, or all of the above. Raphael Vanoli is one such guitarist. But more important, in his solo work Vanoli has developed the technique of blowing across the strings to a high art, turning the guitar into a kind of wind instrument. Add to that his unique dub/electronica duo Knalpot with Gerri Jäger on drums, percussion, electronics, synth, and Casio, and you have one of the more exciting modern guitarists working today.
There have been short clips of this available in the past of this group, with Palle Mikkelborg, Håkon Graf, Sveinung “Thunder Thumb” Hovensjø and Jon Christensen doing a TV special for NRK in 1978, but this is the first time I have seen the full concert. Thanks to Lasse Postmyr for uploading it to YouTube and Peter Freeman for posting on Facebook.
In his video “To Bill” (below) it is easy to detect who the Bill in the title is, but Rocco Saviano also cites Avant-singer Mike Patton. Still, when not paying homage to modern guitar icon Frisell, Saviano’s music leans toward more towards the romanticism of his classical background, with emotion-filled melodies layered over consonant chords, rather than towards Patton’s aggressive sounds. In fact, Saviano’s lyrical style gives ample proof that noise is only one way to be modern.
In 2014, Livid came out with Guitar Wing, which we covered in Guitar Moderne. We were impressed with the possibilities of controlling effects parameters right from the face of the guitar, unchained from pedals and standard hardware controllers. The downside was that the unit can be difficult to fit on your instrument and makes a large visual statement that may or may not be to your liking. On the upside, it is very versatile and, streeting at a little over $100, reasonably priced.
The folks at GTC have come up with an alternate device that debuted at NAMM a couple of years ago. As hearing anything at NAMM is an exercise in futility, we were glad to come across a video that clearly demonstrates the enormous possibilities of their Revpad. Smaller than the Guitar Wing, it comes with its own hardware multi-effects and can also send MIDI to external effects. On the strength of this video, the effects sound great and the Revpad seems nearly as versatile as the Guitar Wing. At around $1000, it is pricier than the Livid product, but when you factor in the cost of the laptop and/or external hardware effects you would need to add to Guitar Wing, they seem comparable values. What do you think?