Shift-Line Force Freezeverb
This cool little pedal from Russia takes the EHX Freeze concept and adds a modulated, high-feedback reverb along with options of sub/super octaves. Together these give the frozen effect ambiance and a nice, modulated quiver, as well as three, exquisitely-tuned freeze voices. The only controls are a knob for effect volume (dry is always at unity gain) and a toggle to control the engage footswitch modes: Momentary, Classic on/off or Latch (tap the footswitch to resample in the Momentary and Latch modes). Note that this pedal is not intended as a replacement for your reverb and I find it works best early in the chain in conjunction with a reverb late in the chain.
To change the voices, hold the footswitch while flicking the toggle. Reverb Freeze (sustain) is up, Gentle Roar (sub+super octave) is middle and Sub-Freeze (sub octave) is down. The attack and decay of the voices are very short, so the voices can sound abrupt at louder volumes. This is especially true for the Gentle Roar and Sub-Freeze. Using them at subtler volumes and adding delay and reverb after helps with the blend.
There’s also a Shadow mode that automatically mimics what you’re playing with a harmonious sub/super octave swarm and fades it in and out under your dry signal. I use this more than any other function. To access the Shadow mode: Disconnect power > Hold the footswitch > Plug it back in > Release the footswitch. (Or hold the footswitch at power-on.) Shadow mode is the center position of the switch. There are also five other demos hidden in the Shadow mode, including an ambient delay and an additive mode. Once in the Shadow mode, flick to switch for the first three demos and hold the footswitch down while flicking the switch for the second three.
Negatives? The only real criticisms I have of this pedal is that it doesn’t have a soft footswitch and no kill-dry option.
My take: The EHX Freeze sustainer needs to be credited for introducing a new style of playing (melody over drone chord) that has found it’s way into ambient, jazz, fingerstyle and seemingly every genre of music. The Shift Line Force takes that evolution a step further by introducing modulation, ambience and pitch effects that help distinguish freeze from the dry signal. The small size and tiny power requirements make it practical to keep on your pedalboard even if you only use it occasionally. The EHX Superego+ and the Hologram Infinite Jets have more capabilities than the Force, but their large size may keep them off your board. I like the drone sounds the the Force creates over the sounds produced by either of these pedals. It’s a gently-modulated ambiance that varies from organ to choir—always earthy, yet otherworldly. While you don’t have much control over the sound itself, the settings are all beautifully crafted to blend in with or behind your playing.
You can use the Force for sustain (Reverb Freeze), ambient accompaniment (Sub-Freeze or Gentle Roar), as well as deepening the well of your reverb (Shadow Freezeverb), so you might find yourself using this pedal more than you think. It can also be fascinating with effects, like an auto-swell pedal before or the Neo Mini Vent II, Rockett Tranquilizer or a formant filter like the Sub Decay Vocawah after. Here’s a demo of the Vocawah. The Force is 9v and burns 70ma.
Note: v1 of the Force lacks the Gentle Roar effect, the Classic mode, but has the shadow mode, ambient delay and additive demo. All pedals sold by Shift Line since January ‘18 are v2. Other changes in v2: the high end has been boosted and the attack of the effect has been softened.