Walrus Audio Fable review: For all your glitchy soundscaping needs
Walrus have been exploring fantasy land again… but will the Fable dual granular delay bring enchantment to your pedalboard?
In 2023, wrapping your listeners in a cosmic cloud of transcendental bliss is easy. But what if you want to jolt things up by adding a few hailstones to that cloud – and not necessarily all falling in the same direction? This could be a job for the Walrus Audio Fable.
- READ MORE: The Big Review: Walrus Audio Melee – thick distortion plus modulated reverb equals portable armageddon
The Fable is a dual digital delay pedal that gives an extra dimension to its modulated textures by deploying one of the big buzzwords of our times: ‘granular’. In other words, it chops its repeats up into tiny pieces and spits them out in a randomised order. The result, in theory, is a magical universe of glitchy weirdness.
This pedal is a follow-up to the Lore, a ‘reverse soundscape generator’ that arrived last year offering delay and reverb combined in five different ways, and the two units share much more than a moonlit fantasy aesthetic: they actually have identical control layouts.
So again you get five possible pairings of (mono) algorithms, again you can adjust the amount of modulation applied to the wet signal, and again there’s an ‘X’ knob that works differently according to the selected mode.
And what are those modes? Reverse delay into reverse granular, forward delay into octave-up granular, analogue-style delay into octave-down granular, a dual multi-tap effect called ‘grain-verb’, and forward delay into randomised-pitch granular. As with the Lore, the two feedback paths interact, which should ensure plenty of cascading edge-of-chaos larks.
If you’re about to launch yourself into the glitchscape, you’re not going to be deterred by a bit of background hiss, right? Because there is some even when the Fable is in bypass; and while you do get switchable trails, there’s no option to select true bypass and kill the circuit completely.
That aside, our early impressions are good. The twin reverse delays of the first mode create an interesting blend of lushness and lo-fi unpredictability, with the X knob bringing a degree of control over how stuttery it is. For anyone familiar with the classic granular delay sounds of the Red Panda Particle 2, this is different – more loose and smeary, more ‘ambient’.
The second mode has no reverse element so the repeats are somewhat less washy, with an octave-up effect that’s quite subtle and can be wonderfully atmospheric, while switching to number three introduces a down octave that sounds extra-mystical with single notes.
Program four with X set to minimum is almost like a pure reverb – well, almost-ish – while five with X at maximum is your most anarchic option. But in all cases, the real fun only comes when the feedback, regeneration and mix controls are all pushed past halfway – you want to hear these adventurous concoctions front and centre, not shuffling about in the background behind your plinky picking.
As with the Lore, you can hold down the second footswitch to ramp up to double speed and pitch; and as with the Lore, we’re not convinced this is much use – not when it could so easily have been an ‘endless sustain’ switch instead, as it is on the Walrus Melee (and indeed the Particle 2). Still, the modulation is great, letting you dial in some proper Memory Man sweetness, and the mood-shaping power of the tone control should not be overlooked.
To an extent, the thing that bothered us most about the Lore – a tendency for all five of its programs to end up sounding like slightly different shades of the same ambient mush – is also true of the Fable. But there is a little more scope for creative exploration here, and it’s a fantasy realm we’re only too happy to get lost in.
- PRICE £305
- DESCRIPTION Dual granular delay pedal, made in the USA
- CONTROLS Feedback, regeneration, modulation, mix, X (mode-specific functions), time and tone; five-way progra switch; bypass and tap tempo footswitches
- FEATURES Buffered bypass with switchable trails, powered by nine-volt mains supply only (300mA)
- DIMENSIONS 122 x 91 x 57mm
- CONTACT walrusaudio.com, face.be
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