Before getting too far into this I think it’s important to touch on how pedals like this can be written off as novelties or something created specifically for people with too much money and not enough sense – while I don’t actually know the Hologram Electronics business plan, I don’t believe either of those are included in it. This pedal is inspiring in ways that a lot of more traditional pedals cannot possibly be. What I mean by that is this little box manages to make you play like a different person. The way it takes your playing and cuts it up and re-configures it somehow makes it familiar yet strange enough to make you react differently to what might be a normal pattern you always play.
Most guitarists don’t like to admit that they fall into playing patterns and end up repeating themselves – I will openly admit this, I do it all the time and I especially do it when I’m playing with my familiar array of pedals. I know that I can wash out everything in delay and reverb, swell in on the volume pedal and then noodle around pentatonic scales and it will sound great to me. One of the reasons that I love Infinite Jets is that it breaks this cycle, violently at times, by taking a familiar input and returning something entirely foreign and unique.
This new and interesting return triggers something in your playing that makes you step outside of the familiar patterns, your fallbacks don’t work, the harmonies and dissonance make you try new things, new scales or modes or techniques altogether. This isn’t to say that you’ll never be able to dial in a simple sound, but if you want to, this pedal can take over and help break any type of creative drought you may be experiencing, even if it’s only for a minute.
Going further into this I’m going to intersperse some audio samples of the 4 different modes this pedal has – Blur, Synth, Glitch and Swell – this is not going to come anywhere close to covering what you can do with this magical box but it might help you understand the basics of how it can work.
This and swell mode are the most immediately accessible modes on this pedal. The gist of this mode is that whatever notes you’re playing are sampled, all attack is removed and just the core tonality is played back. This is then combined with an option to shift octaves up or down and you end up with some really interesting atmospheric, soundscape territory. This can really replicate a ton of different effects sounds, but this is the easiest way to think about it.
Getting a little more wild at this point, there are two options for synth mode, one being a hard edged digital sounding synth engine and the other being a bit more tame and vintage sounding. There’s a couple ways into this mode, blending with the dry signal allows you to create interesting pads below your lead playing, but running 100% effected is also a neat approach of just turning your guitar into a synth sound. I use this quite a bit for a synth bass feel without having to haul out anything other than my guitar. Works great with a loop pedal since this sits in really unique sonic territory and doesn’t tend to clash with more traditional guitar sounds.
This is my favorite mode on this pedal. This type of really random, really wild sounding reinterpretations is something I used to work really hard to do manually in audio editing programs. I love the sound of these glitched out parts living in the background of a textural guitar piece, just awesome – however, this actually produces some really beautiful other effects when you play around with the settings a bit more. You probably already get this, but this pedal is deep.
In this mode the pedal is taking your playing, sampling it and adding interesting volume effects. This can range from huge atmospheric sounds to a rather traditional chorus or tape warble. The actual mechanics behind this one are still honestly a mystery to me but man is it ever fun to play around with.
If you’ve made it this far you’re probably the type of person who would really enjoy this pedal. It’s an incredibly dense and interesting sonic territory that really lends itself to a lot of different applications. Small side note: Apologies to Hologram Electronics for all of these photos showing a pedal with a broken knob. I took this out on the road right after getting it and dropped the case for my pedalboard on it the first night. Sorry dudes! It’s really a beautiful pedal!
If I had to say anything that detracts from this pedal – I’d say that at this price point being a mono pedal with no midi options is a bit of a bummer. I’d love to work this more solidly into a lot more pieces but being unable to recall more than 2 presets doesn’t really make that very possible.
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