How will my simple punk music mix with these granular looper, delay, and overall noisemaker?
I’m not sure there is a more hyped pedal company than Chase Bliss Audio. And unfortunately, I think I have let that cloud my judgement at times. The MOOD is just the latest in a long line of audio achievements by the Chase Bliss team, and while the expensive price points scared me away for awhile, I am seriously attached to this noise generator now.
The MOOD is arguably too complicated for me to explain in one article, but I do want to give my personal opinion on what this beautiful delay/reverb/pitch shifter/granular looper does. The MOOD is built around two sides, a WET channel and a looping channel. The WET channel features a spread of amazing reverb, delay, and pitch shifting effects that can devolve into madness when needed or stay crystal clear as well. The control knobs basically all change depending on what mode you have the WET and looping channels set to. Specifically, the Reverb channel is best described as a group of smearable delay taps, while the Delay channel is a looping delay, that is heavily influenced by the clock control, which allows for you to record different looping delays over each other. Slip, which is still a bit confusing to me, is an adjustable playback head, with a controllable length of the buffer via the time knob as well control over playback speed and direction, allowing for interesting pitching effects.
Moving over to the looping side quickly, there are three looping modes titled ENV, TAPE, and STRETCH. ENV features a dynamic looping structure that allows for freezing a note, stuttering a loop, or time stretching via the length and modify controls. TAPE works to give you control over the speed and direction of the loop, like manipulating a tape reel. You can slice up the loop with the length control, with it swelling in and out with the knob turned counter clockwise. Modify sets the speed/direction on top as well. Lastly, STRETCH will time stretch the loop, with control over the amount of the loop stretched and the amount of stretching.
Not to diminish the many other amazing functions, but definitely turn to their incredible manual as well. Though the best feature may be the variable ramping control provided by the suite of dipswitches and the blend control knob that sits about the clock knob. Using your own creativity or their recommended presets, you can have a wide range of ramping features moving in and out of your sonically generated madness.
Review & Opinion:
There is little more that can be said about the genius of this pedal, especially from someone like myself who is barely qualified to use it to its full potential. However, I think the highest praise I can give it is that the MOOD is equally as fun as it is inspiring. I was really shocked and a bit turned off by these $300+ price points for a pedal. I’ve even stated before that I choose to avoid such things.
However the minute I heard the cascade of musical delay taps from this pedal, I knew they were on to something. Even without all the ramping and micro looping features, this pedal could stand on just the Reverb and Delay settings housed within the WET channel. With smearable, lo-fi tones easily generated, I found myself right at home trying to make my punk meets “The Unforgettable Fire” textures. But at the same time, the delay and reverb modes can get incredibly clean and precise which creates some beautiful contrast with the looping capabilities.
Once I dove into the loops, I could slice up and modify my loops at will. And while there was no shortage of musical possibilities with this feature, the highlight was the production of so many synth-like soundscapes that I could play clean, delay-laden phrases over. While it may seem simplistic to say “I love just making noises with the MOOD”, that is really the truth. There is an endless pool of opportunities when you mix a clean guitar line over a smeared loop, or a sliced up micro looping delay over a clean granular looped arpeggio.
I set out to record this stuttering, punk breakdown loop, and before I knew it I was having too much fun just hunting for sounds throughout the 13 minute demo. In fact, I’m going to need to do a part 2 and 3 just to further explore the ramping functionality and ability to run the loop into the delay and back.
But really what I want to emphasize here is that the Chase Bliss MOOD makes me want to play guitar a lot more than my other pedals do. And that is something to be celebrated.
Conclusion & Final Score: 9.25 out of 10
The big reason this isn’t a second 10/10 in 2021 is simply the price. It is a fair price for one of the most unique and exciting pedals on the market, but it is just not a pedal that everyone will need, want, or be able to even acquire. And no one really needs a $350 pedal to be a good guitarist anyway, so I do see the MOOD as kind of a luxury item. However, that is where my negative feedback ends.
To make a pedal that is actually an extension of a musician and their guitar is a huge accomplishment. The MOOD is equal parts instrument and pedal, providing a really fun live tool or at-home inspiration piece. It’s no doubt one of the coolest, and most intimidating, pedals I’ve tried and I’m looking forward to following up on this content as I dive deeper and deeper into it. I anticipate its score may even move up a notch prior to my end of the year ranking. But at least for the MOOD, Chase Bliss Audio is doing something that literally no one else seems to be able to do.