December 9, 2013 by tonetribune
Golden Box from a Golden Era
The Binson Echorec was an unusual, tube-driven echo unit of Italian origin, that employed a spinning magnetic drum and four playback heads instead of the usual tape echos of the day. This revolutionary device enabled the user to combine the playback heads to achieve a rhythmic pulse of repeats that you could create syncopated soundscapes with.
One unintended bi-product of most of these archaic, mechanical echo machines was a slight, musical modulation to the repeats from wobble of the spinning drum or wear of the playback heads. This lovely corrupted timbre can be heard on many early Hank Marvin records, giving his guitar a sad and seductive sigh when used in conjunction with his signature tremolo bends.
The original unit was also famously favoured by British guitar hero David Gilmour, who inherited his classic early rig of Strat, Fuzzface and Echorec from predecessor Syd Barrett. Both used the Echorec to melt the minds of audiences and listeners and this legendary golden box was an integral part of The Pink Floyd’s early fever-dream sounds.
Resurrected and Perfected
While vintage units in various states of disrepair command exorbitantly high prices for lawyers and collectors, Howard Gee (Chief circuit designer of Portland Oregon based pedal company Catalinbread) brought back the magic of the Echorec with years of painstaking research and development. Leaving no stone unturned, we now have all the modulated, multi-tapping madness of the original in a small pedalboard-friendly enclosure.
Worthy modern improvements include a variable speed control (the original had a fixed delay time) that allows you to create faux modulated reverb sounds at faster settings. Close your eyes and you are now transported to the intergalactic spaghetti-western world of Joe Meek, where cowboys and vampires surf the sound waves you create. Slow down the repeats and let the rhythmic pulse of the echos inform your riffage as you create beautiful and haunting soundscapes that bubble and murmur like the lava of Pompeii.
Signal Path to Sonic Glory
Catalinbread’s Echorec even retains a similar preamp circuit to the original that can be used in buffered mode to help drive long cables while giving your signal path a warm, fat boost that you will not want to turn off.
One neat trick you can do is turn the internal gain trimmer all the way up and switch to true bypass setting inside the pedal. Now when you turn it on your face will melt in a blast of vintage fuzz and echo that you can tame with your volume knob almost like a vintage Fuzzface!
Fever Dream of Gold and Green
Catalinbread have always been known for their beautifully creative enclosures and the Echorec is no exception. Engage the unit and the green LED will illuminate the metallic, bullion gold box, revealing a Deco-triptastic logo and a metaphysical man who muscular system is revealed in an early Floydian fashion.
If you are looking for an ethereal delay pedal that inspires and has character to spare, the Echorec is you one way ticket to time-based bliss. It is capable of burning bright, syncopated, sizzling slaps, or warm embers of pulsing pads that provide a haunting backdrop to whatever sound-source you choose.
Inspiration on Multi-tap
In the amazing manual (a great read with some history of the original) which you can view here. Howard states that you are guaranteed to write a new riff when you first interact with his Echorec. Well, he was certainly right about that.
In the clip below (when I am not playing the clean setting) I am using the amazing Caroline Wave Cannon in Havok mode to create wild synth-like sounds that infuse with the Echorec for a sonic stew of cosmic proportions. Hear it and then get your own. I got mine from Guitarguitar in Edinburgh, Scotland. Pop in there and let Jamie Gilchrist hook you up to the latest from Catalinbread.