Chaos mode turns the Soda Meiser into the nastiest, raspiest, wildest fuzzbox I have ever heard. This is a good thing
We have to say that the name of this pedal is even funnier than Electro-Harmonix‘ best efforts at innuendo. We have previously reviewed an OohLaLa Cobalt pedal, and the good news is that the finish quality on display here is substantially better. The ‘Coke can’ graphics and control labelling are all done with transfers, although Myrold (the barmy brains behind this box) couldn’t resist brushing a bit of silver paint around the edges. It looks perfect from five feet away, so unless you happen to be a vertically-challenged shoegazer, who really cares?
It’s only a fuzzbox, but the Soda Meiser manual is essential reading. Volume controls the output level and Intensity sets the forward signal entering the fuzz circuit, so it’s basically like the Drive or Sustain control on more familiar fuzzboxes. Things get a bit more confusing when you get to Chaos and Flip, and it doesn’t help that in the manual one is a footswitch and the other is a toggle switch… but they’re reversed on the actual box, and the advertised ‘Flip’ has mysteriously been replaced by a footswitch marked ‘Boost’.
So eccentricity is clearly viewed as an asset by OohLaLa, but that’s probably because the company was formed to provide an outlet for independent contractors – artisans build these things at home in relatively small numbers and OohLaLa provides the means to sell them. Nevertheless, the original owner gets a lifetime warranty against malfunctions resulting from ‘normal and correct usage’ and the build quality and components do inspire confidence.
Plugging in and playing is the only way to get your head around this pedal. In basic operating mode the Soda Meiser has a massively thick and velvety Big Muff-type tone, but there’s a sting in the tail, a rather weird stuttering cut-out as notes tail off. If you play staccato the Soda Meiser cuts out almost immediately, creating punchy definition with almost complete silence between notes. I’d normally associate this gating effect with a run-down battery or voltage starvation from a Bias control, but the Soda Meiser does this even with a power supply. I really like the effect because it adds sonic interest, and it’s controllable too.
Regardless of the Intensity setting there’s always plenty of fuzz, so Intensity actually controls sustain. Fully up it goes on forever, but set it low and there’s little sustain, making the Soda Meiser act a bit like a ring modulator. Intensity gives you plenty of scope for experimentation, and it’s responsive to playing dynamics.
Chaos mode turns the Soda Meiser into the nastiest, raspiest and wildest fuzzbox I have ever heard, which is undoubtedly a good thing. You’re confronted with screeching trebles and a huge volume clamp-down at the front of notes that gradually releases to allow notes to swell in volume and thicken in texture before they fizz out into a cacophony of low-frequency buzzing and oscillating white noise. Then jump on the Boost switch and you could blow your mind as well as your speakers.
The Soda Meiser is hairy, scary and probably best suited to more sonically adventurous players. If youre into mayhem this is a noise generator par excellence, but despite its strangely musical nature, it wouldnt be the most user-friendly choice if you only plan to buy one fuzzbox.