Month: March 2014

Kind words about Catharsis

Invisible Oranges published some kind words about Catharsis in their review of the new Nux Vomica record.

One of my favorite songs is “Arsonist’s Prayer,” the last song ever recorded by the North Carolina hardcore band Catharsis. Catharsis’s hardcore leaned towards the crusty and metallic, though it was ambitious in ways that most such music is not. Their lyrical themes were pretty standard-issue for ’90s punk: disgust with modernity and longing for something better. But Catharsis delivered these ideas with a cinematic flair; their songs routinely grew past the 5-minute mark, and vocalist Brian D dressed his dissatisfaction in colorful metaphor. Lots of hardcore bands — too many, really — tackle this material from the street level. Catharsis were special because they offered a bird’s-eye view of the collapse.

Like all great bands, Catharsis were fundamentally inimitable. I rarely come across bands that use the same combination of tactics or that give me the same rush. Nux Vomica come close, though. These Portland transplants fittingly formed in 2002, the year that Catharsis broke up; they released two LPs and a pile of short-format releases before this one, though they’ve escaped my notice until now.

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I’m always humbled and flattered when people I respect think art I made over ten years ago is still relevant, powerful, and influential.

Custom Distortion Pedal

Matt from Atomium Amplification posted about a custom distortion pedal he’s building for me (along with the modded SD-1 from the previous post). Take a look:

custom distortion pedal

Basic volume/tone/gain setup with selectable symmetric/asymmetric clipping (really compression). The symmetric uses germanium 1N34As, the asymmetric uses a violet LED and 1N914s. Both sets use series resistors to make them act more like a compressor. Most of the actual clipping comes from overloading the 4580 opamp, which has no diodes in its feedback loop. The diode compressors give it more of a “touchy” vibe. It’s not a great design for low-gain, since it gets gainy really fast, but for high gain it’s got massive punch and manages to get both saturation and note separation.

Whirlwind Tour of the East Bay

Last weekend was the best in a long time. Adrian and I went to Berkley and Oakland, partially for a vacation, partially for a Catharsis show. We were there around 30 hours total.

Saturday we walked around Berkley, visiting some shops on Telegraph, eating burritos, contemplating matching tattoos, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Later, Catharsis played a show in Oakland. Both Adrian and I got to catch up with old friends.

Gear-wise, I played my Les Paul Special through Craigums‘ 5150 head and cabinet. For distortion, I had a modded Boss SD-1, which I got in a package deal trade for my old guitar. Craig was so impressed with sound I dialed in, he told me after the show it was the best his amp had ever sounded! More on the Boss SD-1 in another post.

(Show pictures by Mike Santos)

Sunday, we had a long trip home…

PHL panorama