Hot Band :: Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes

I just discovered the amazing math / alt / post blog Fecking Bahamas via an interview they did with the amazing Town Portal and it turns out they regularly do amazing reviews of amazing bands. I will use the ‘Hot Band’ tag to chart the expansion of my iPod; already there have been a couple of great discoveries from this one source.

The first entry in this series is the greatly named and greatly music’d Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes, and their brand new album Grim Repercussions. They are from Australia, just like Pivixki and AC/DC.

A lot of bands use gratuitous echo as a crutch to draw some contrast with and bind together hyperactive rhythms into something resembling a song, but Captain Kickarse are refreshingly restrained with the former, and skilled enough to mix a ‘The Ocean’-style groove with the latter. A fine way to spend $12 AUD.

Tones :: Tele / Quadraverb / SDE-3000

New Old Gear :: Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+



Finally, after years of Boogie ownership, experiments with Fender amps, boutique pedals, and a Dumble clone, the real deal has landed. The amp is a 1983 IIC, upgraded to a C+ in 2011 (along with fresh filter caps, new tubes, and a service by Mike B). I have paired it with what looks to be a 2000s compact Thiele cabinet, with the C90 swapped out for an EVM12L.

Before writing about or recording the amp I want to spend more time experimenting, trying different cabs, FX, and guitars. But after a week of ownership I’m still giddy – I have yet to find something it doesn’t excel at. Some notes – it’s got the killer lead of the IIB with just enough of the refinement of the IV (it’s actually borderline magic); the clean is (dare I say it) punchier and fuller than my Deluxe Reverb; it takes pedals (dare I say it) better than the Deluxe; it’s totally silent in operation and switching channels; it sounds incredible even at low volume…

I could go on, and I will, but for now it’s time to bask.

New Old Gear :: BOSS TW-1 T-Wah


The BOSS TW-1 T-Wah (a.k.a. the Touch Wah on the earliest versions) is my latest guitar toy. I’ve wanted an auto-filter for ages, mainly for playing Inca Roads and other FZ mid-70s vibes, and remembered that Larry Carlton used the TW-1 for a while in the 80s. (Having since revisited the clip where he shows the TW-1 on his board, he actually says he uses it every two years, and not to buy one, which is exactly the kind of perverted recommendation/warning  that I like.)

I paid £55 for it on eBay, which I think is a pretty good deal for a MIJ BOSS pedal from Roland’s golden era (roughly 1978-85 in my estimation).

Powering vintage BOSS pedals

One slight annoyance about this and other old BOSS pedals is that they don’t use a standard PSA-type power supply. Apparently, the idea behind the power supply design was for you to daisy chain several pedals, so they are designed for an unregulated 12V input, and then step down the voltage internally so that there is plenty of juice for all the other pedals. So the pedal runs at 9V internally, has a connector for a 9V battery, but needs a 12V input.

If you plug in a 9V supply (as I have tried), you get a dim LED and the pedal doesn’t function quite fully as you’d like. After all, the 9V input is then running through the same stepdown circuit that was intended for the 12V input.

Elsewhere on the web it is stated that if you daisychain the pedal with other BOSS gear then you can use a normal 9V input as having a common ground will bypass the stepdown. I have tried this out and it is not true – I used the output from a TU-2 and the pedal behaved the same as if you plug a normal 9V input in. (Perhaps the output of the TU-2 is isolated from the input and the GND is not shared, therefore the stepdown is still engaged?)

Ultimately I connected the pedal to a 12V tap on my T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon and normal operation was restored (although there’s something wrong-feeling about plugging a BOSS pedal into a 12V supply).


I’ve really enjoyed playing this pedal so far. I got it for playing leads à la Inca Roads, which it does very nicely, but have also found it to perform well for rhythm parts as well (and not just the furious-right-hand-funk people always demonstrate with this type of pedal).

Because the filter is triggered by attack, you can keep it closed by using the volume control on your guitar, which can act as a proxy for the peak control. This reduces the amount of gain you have, of course.

One cool effect I found is hitting a chord with the volume on your guitar set low (so as not to open the filter), and then rolling the volume slowly up to full. As the volume increases, the filter doesn’t open but the gain increases – because the filter is still closed it’s like rolling in a very deep, menacing texture. Something akin to the volume swells early on in Forty-Six and Two, but darker.

There is a big difference in the behaviour of the pedal with active pickups, and I imagine the same would be true of humbuckers.

The down/up switch on the pedal is a nice feature, but the ‘down’ setting sounds strange to my ears (and not in a good way). The settings I have fixed on are ‘up’, and both ‘peak’ and ‘sens’ set to 12:00.


Like Larry Carlton says, you’re not going to use this pedal all the time, but I have found myself reaching for it much more than I thought I would. Because it is an inherently dynamic effect, it forces you to play as such, controlling the filter with your picking. This is the best kind of practise: the kind you don’t realise you’re doing (i.e. the not completely life-suckingly dull version).

In the negative column, it’s very much not true-bypass, and having it in the signal chain sucks tone on par with older Electro-Harmonix gear, which is not something I normally expect from BOSS, even their non-true-bypass pedals. (To be clear, this is not a pedal geek allergy to anything that’s not true-bypass – it’s a real deal problem.)

In summary, the TW-1 is a vintage pedal that sounds good, unlocks some cool new playing techniques, and makes you think more carefully about pick dynamics. With that, and the fact that it’s not wildly more expensive than a new DS-1, I can forgive the power supply idiosyncrasies and tone suck. If you see one for cheap and fancy something a bit different, go nuts.

Sold :: Fender Deluxe Reverb

Fender Deluxe Reverb Amp – £685

I’ve owned this amp from new, bought 2 years ago. I’ve just purchased a vintage Mesa/Boogie and can only afford to keep one amplifier, which sadly forces the sale of this great piece of gear.

2 channel amp, channel one (‘normal’) is slightly darker sounding, channel 2 (‘vibrato’) is slightly brighter and has the beautiful tremolo and classic Fender spring reverb that this amp is so well known for.

This is the best clean amp ever made – in my opinion superior to the Twin Reverb. The 6V6 output tubes are much more touch sensitive, which makes this a perfect partner for a good quality drive pedal (I’ve been using a Keeley Tubescreamer and it sounds incredible).

Amp is in perfect condition, home use only and never gigged. Always used with a Furman power conditioner and very well looked after. Comes in the original Fender box, and is supplied with original tremolo / reverb footswitch.

If you’re interested, please leave a comment, or email for more info – the amp is located in London.

Sold :: Electro-Harmonix Memory Man with Hazarai

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai – £95

For sale is an Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai. Perfect condition, boxed and with power supply, home use only and never gigged. I bought this about 6 months ago and have used it as a loop pedal for practising. It’s a very full featured pedal, and can do everything from super-clean slapback and looping to reverse delay and classic EHX weirdness if that’s what takes your fancy.

The pedal is located in London, but can be posted anywhere within the UK at the buyer’s expense.

Please email or leave a comment if you’re interested.

For Sale :: RJM Mini Effect Gizmo, MasterMind

I’m rebuilding my guitar rig (again) so moving on a few bits from the current setup. RJM no longer have a UK distributor, which makes their products impossible to find over here now. These units are both in perfect / as-new condition and function flawlessly. Items are located in London, shipping can be arranged at buyer’s expense. There may be some discount available if you want to take both units. Leave a comment, or email


RJM Mini Effect Gizmo – £200
Perfect condition, never gigged, home use only. 2x inputs (buffered / normal), 2x outputs (click stopper / normal), 5x FX loops, 5x programmable patches. No setup required for use with the MasterMind – just plug in and start creating patches.

RJM MasterMind Midi Controller – £180
Perfect condition, never gigged, home use only. Supplied with an RJM powered MIDI cable, which supplies power to the unit as well, so no need for running miles of extra cabling or extra power adapters. Comes in original box.

FZ :: Music vs War

“If ya wanna have a world of well performed orchestra music, you’re gonna have to spend the money to do it. Now, where ya gonna get the money? Well, you know, if you were to shut down some of these places that make tritium for nuclear warheads, which we don’t really need, you could have one hell of a musical culture in the United States just by shutting down … one! … of those facilities, which is making the environment polluted, and it is questionable whether we really need, we got plenty of nuclear warheads. We could blow up the world five times over right now. Why do we need to make more of this stuff? I’m baffled.”

FZ in 1989 – sounds like a win-win to me (source)

Admin :: New Home, New Name

This site, formerly known as ‘’, has undertaken its third official server move.  Since the first post on Sept. 15th, 2010, the site has inhabited Uncle Meat – an HP DL380 G3 which was loud as hell,  Lumpy Gravy – a homebuilt PC which was much more civilised, and most recently Phaze III – a rented VPS on a 200 meg pipe (up from the 512k home broadband the original machines ran on).

That server grew to be slow as hell, and I’m serving more professional content now which means uptime is important, and the old box wasn’t cutting it, and was expensive. And thus we arrive at today – the old site, reborn on a new, faster, more reliable, cheaper server (named Thing-Fish), and with a new domain to boot. The original will soon redirect to the new, my portfolio site, so update bookmarks etc… to the somewhat new

Music :: Kongor-ol Ondar / Dance Me This

Kongar-ol Ondar, the Tuvan throat singer who attended one of FZ’s 1993 music parties and got as close to mainstream culture as any throat singer had before (or since), died aged 51 last July following a brain haemorrhage. Frank’s fondness for and adoption of Tuvan styles in his later work is something that makes his untimely passing all the more upsetting — Dio Fa sets a pretty high bar for fusing the unusual with the unusual, and we are left only to imagine the possibilities.

In tribute to Ondar, the ZFT posted a Synclavier piece featuring his vocals to the ‘of consequence’ section of There’s not much to go on aside from a hint dropped by the Idiot Bastard, but it’s very possible that this piece is from the legendary, unreleased Dance Me This album, and is likely (at least an excerpt from) ‘Calculus’, a piece executed with Synclavier software created by Todd Yvega designed to follow the Tuvan’s no-beat ‘free time’ rhythms.

A helpful person has uploaded the piece to YouTube, and it’s embedded below. Now if the ZFT could prioritise Dance Me This and The Rage and The Fury for release ahead of all the Roxy business (which has been going on for decades anyway), that’d make for a great 2014. Arf!