Spiralling into Control
The sonic scientists at Akron’s EarthQuaker Devices have developed some incredible dream devices over the years. They have taken the tone to the 13th Floor time and time again, all the while maintaining analog interaction and tone voicings. This is a fantastic vehicle for the technophobic tone tweaker who is after both the immediacy of dialling in and comprehensive sound sculpting. This newest offering continues EQD’s ambient lineage and offers up 30 to 600 milliseconds of creamy, analog-voiced delay with a deep, yet intuitive modulation control suite.
To my ears the delay line itself sounds akin to the fabled SAD-chipped delay pedals of yore and the retro-futuristic intrigue only gets trippier as the Depth control is dialled in. With the Shape control dialled anti-clockwise toward the triangle wave and the Rate set slow, dreamy slurring smears and hazy hues of movement turn simple guitar passages into dirty window daydreams of psychedelic coloration. Wilting atmospheres emulsify in the mind’s eye like decomposing swamps decaying in a Super 8 surrealist cinema. The crumbling resonance and high-end roll-off work magic with the analog dry-through signal, allowing the unaffected nuance and initial diction of the player’s touch to shine through.
Orbital Oscillations of Otherworld Origin
Though the Space Spiral is capable of some convincing grimy tape slapback at shorter Time settings, my favorite sounds in this box are the stretched-out dreamscapes with the modulation creeping in and out of the line slowly. With the Repeats just on the verge of self-oscillation, it is almost as if one is doing session spot on a Boards of Canada record. For those who don’t get that reference, the tone is murky and soft focus . . . dreamlike. EQD describes the unit as having that oil can delay vibe, which I can definetly hear, but there is so much more going on in this silvery little box.
One cool thing to do is wind the Time and Repeats right back, turn the Mix to a more modest setting and get some interesting chorus-like tones out of the Space Spiral with the modulation section. Riding the Shape dial reveals melted vinyl tone treatments through to bubbling square wave throbs of hypno-robo-speak. Like many delays with a fine-tuneable LFO, there are many hidden modulation variations on board this little vessel.
What We Like
The Space Spiral is a lovely little silver screen dream machine. EQD has nailed the lo-fi ambient effect genre down. The controls are simple, yet versatile. The graphics are killer and the build quality is specified for post-human longevity. There are little hidden realms of alt-modulation in the dials and the tape-like treatments are convincingly analog in tone and resonance. Long washes of lilting pleasure await and where else can one get a square wave bathtub reverb so easily? This box is the one for getting the Dead Meadow tone on.
If tap tempo or expression control are needed, this isn’t the one. I suppose the Space Spiral is for those who don’t want to faff about with extra features and just want to get down to ambient business. There is something to be said for this approach though. The washy, murky nature of the repeats won’t get in the way of the original signal and precision repeat beat syncing isn’t necessary with this type of delay. I suppose the other niggle some might find is the mirrored knob settings are not that obvious on darker stages, but they look so cool, so who cares. Set it, forget it and blast off into the Spiral.