There are an awful lot of guitar effects pedals that massage, tweak, clean, or otherwise enhance the signal from a guitar's pickups before it reaches the amplifier. The Anti-Effect from Poland's Chaosound turns its back on all that goodness and tries its best to destroy the sound instead.
Why would you even want to emulate the kind of bothersome sounds resulting from a broken guitar cable, malfunctioning pickups or an amp that's pumping out its very last sonic breath? An answer can be found in ZZ Top's Loaded from the 1996 album Rhythmeen, where The Reverand Willy G accompanies Dusty Hill's vocals with a menacing, gritty, fuzzed-out guitar hook that sounds like he's trying to route a massive rig through one tiny radio speaker.
Also a good fit for an experimental John Frusciante or Tom Morello, this unassuming, rather innocent-looking black box imitates electroacoustic track damage. Its job is simply to smash apart the signal according to settings chosen by the player, then let it rip through the amp ... and it does this very well.
The hand-built to order boutique stompbox features analog, hand-wired, temperature-tolerant circuitry and runs on a 9-volt power input (battery or DC), consuming about 3.5 mA. A dial on the left controls the speed of the signal breakup, there's a sequencer in the middle to flavor the output, and a depth control to the right.
There are two stomps on top. One activates the effect and the other shortcuts to its maximum depth setting, regardless of the position of the depth control. Unlike standard stomps, the pedal is only active when a foot pushes either switch down. If you release the switch, the signal destruction stops.
A true bypass switch at the back allows you to cut the Anti-Effect from the signal chain completely, should your destructive juices run out.
The following video demonstrates the range of broken sounds available when the pedal sits between a guitar and clean amp.
The real fun starts, however, if you place a distortion pedal before the Anti-Effect in the chain, as you can see and hear below.
At the very darkest regions of my tremolo pedal's capabilities, I can possibly achieve something similar to a basic cable problem, but this pedal offers its own special flavors and shades to the mix – in the shape of four different sequences and, according to Chaosound, the ability to dial in crushing and bombing and thunder and lightning sounds.
The Anti-Effect pedal is available direct from Chaosound for US$239.