Calling all experimenters, innovators, mad scientists and various other creative types. You have a new favorite pedal (whether you know it or not). The kind folks at Catalinbread have unleashed “yet another” delay pedal. For those keeping score at home, that makes five delay pedals active in Catalinbread’s current lineup. But this one isn’t just another delay pedal. It’s not emulating a vintage tape echo unit, an analog BBD delay, or even some prototypical digital delay. Nope, it’s here to emulate the worst aspect of early portable compact disc players by takes your precious little guitar signal and applying the random glitches and skips that dismantled your favorite tunes every time you hit a bump or even took a corner too fast. It even has a clever little name that pays homage to the original portable CD player—CSIDMAN.
It might be spelled strangely, but this sweet little pedal is pronounced “Discman.” And once you plug in and experiment with the Cuts and Latch controls, you’ll be skipping and glitching in real time. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the heart of the CSIDMAN is a pristine digital delay pedal. The echoes it creates are high-fidelity and as close as possible to the signal you are feeding into the pedal. Looking at the face of the CSIDMAN, you’ll see familiarly labelled controls for Time, Mix, and Feed. These are the “normal” controls. Time controls the length of the delay, from no delay up to 725 milliseconds. Feed controls the number of repeats; it is somewhat interdependent of other knob settings, but in most of my testing, you start to get into runaway oscillation between noon and 2 o’clock. Unlike many delay pedals, the CSIDMAN allows you to blend between a full dry signal and a full wet signal (no input signal, only delay signal). This comes in handy when trying to mimic the glitches and skips of a Discman but without any echoes . . . More on this later.
Finally, the settings that set the CSIDMAN apart from other delay pedals are Latch and Cuts. Latch determines how much glitch and stutter is applied to your signal. When set fully clockwise, you just get an endless repeat of whatever part of your signal the CSIDMAN latched onto. This control is also what allows you to control the sanity (for lack of a better word) of the pedal. When the Latch control is set fully counter clockwise, the CSIDMAN behaves like your run of the mill digital delay pedal, serving up clean and unassuming repeats. Your bandmates will never know the freaked out digital beast lurking within. Cuts determines the speed or size of the glitches and stutters—short and fast skips or longer stutters.
Digging into the CSIDMAN, it takes some time to learn how it works and how to fit it into one’s style and technique. For me, it was fitting that the CSIDMAN arrived just as I was digging into the Netflix original Stranger Things. The soundtrack to Stranger Things is all ‘80s synth and horror film sound effects. Pairing the weirdness of CSIDMAN with some dark minor chord arpeggios and some long modulated plate reverb helped me create some creeped-out soundscapes and kept me checking over my shoulder for the (spoiler alert) Demogorgon!
The CSIDMAN can also find itself at home with any instrument and even in the studio. I had the luck of possessing it at the same time as the Cusack Pedal Cracker, and it’s downright crazy on vocals. But I had equally great experiences applying it to bass and keys.
What We Like: The CSIDMAN is unlike any other delay pedal out there. It’s weird, it’s crazy, and it’s wholly original. It will inspire you to play things you’d never imagined and can add a surprising (dangerous?) level of uncertainty to any musical passage.
Concerns: The random nature of the CSIDMAN makes recreating the same phrase twice pretty difficult. As such, I had a hard time building rhythmic parts that utilized the full scope of the pedal. I was able to get somewhat consistent results with very short Time settings paired with very high Latch and Cuts settings.