Review: Lateral Phonics Deadman Fuzz
Desolate torn-speaker tones straight outta Moscow.
Lateral Phonics comprises a pair of annoyingly young Muscovite pedal makers who look set to put Russia on the boutique effects map. Embracing the hand-painted design language of more established effects brands such as Z.Vex, JAM and Fuzzrocious, Lateral Phonics augments custom paintwork with weird, mis-matched knobs, scratches, and seemingly random holes.
The Deadman Fuzz is an updated take on the classic Triangle Big Muff and features a silicon/germanium hybrid schematic and NOS parts. At no point does the whimsical paintwork offer any practical indication of control settings or indeed which knob does what, and the instruction manuals are no more than black and white postcards. Depending on the user’s outlook this minimalist approach to information sharing may actively encourage deeper experimentation… or completely frustrate creativity.
Happily the control array here is uncomplicated and features chicken head knobs for volume and low cut, while the fuzz control is distinguished by a silver-top witch’s hat, the numbers on which are the closest you’ll get to an indication of setting. Three holes have been drilled into the top of the enclosure for cosmetic reasons, although a hole-free version of the pedal is also available.
The road to hell is paved with misguided Big Muff schematics but Lateral Phonics brings a commendable ‘carpe scrotum’ attitude to the table with Deadman Fuzz, which avoids many of the original pedal’s foibles by virtue of hybrid germanium/silicon innards. While not a new approach, it is done well in this case, making for an extremely impressive fuzz which is thrillingly gnarly while punchy enough to get through a mix intact.
At low-gain settings the Deadman is a beautiful rhythm pedal which, unusually for the breed, will sometimes allow a minor or major 3rd to be audible in the mix along with your artful powerchords. The low cut control allows a degree of tone shaping without getting extreme and there is more than enough volume available to slap a tube amp into submission.
Poking the bear further unleashes an excoriating wall of saw-toothed gain, perfect for searing lead work, especially wide vibrato and expressive bends. It also chokes out and stutters nicely when you starve it with the volume knob.
When it comes to hand-painted, NOS-component-equipped boutique pedals, it’s fair to say that there’s a lot of them about, and in order to successfully establish a brand in this already crowded marketplace it takes more than fridge-front visuals and an Instagram following. Lateral Phonics shows real potential, and the Deadman Fuzz is able to stand alongside some of the best fuzzes we’ve heard.
- PRICE €195
- DESCRIPTION Handwired silicon/germanium fuzz pedal, made in Russia
- CONTROLS Volume, fuzz, low cut
- FEATURES Side-mounted in and out jacks, on/off LED, true bypass switching, 9v mains power
- DIMENSIONS 119.5mm x 94mm x 51mm
- CONTACT lateralphonics.com