Ghost in the shell — a sequenced, haunting reverb

Ghost in the shell uses a reverb lite and a granular module, fed back into itself, to produce different textures of reverb, with the option to use a sequencer to switch between different presets. The granular module’s grain size and pitch are changed per preset, creating a wealth of textures that range from tremolos to pitchshifting to phasing to vaguely formant-like sounds (which is where the name of this patch came from; I felt like ZOIA was “talking” to me when I stumbled upon this combination. I’ve seen, like, four anime movies in my life, and one of them is called Ghost in the Shell, which, if my twenty year old memory serves me right, is about whether an AI can have a soul).

It is not really a “pretty” reverb, but I think it’s an excellent “mood-setting” reverb. Especially if that mood is a sort of dystopian haunted house.

There’s also a “stutter” effect; this is not a glitch/loop/note repeat sort of stutter. I was thinking more of guitar killswitch pedals, which are sometimes called stutter pedals. It is, essentially, a randomized “tremolo” (it doesn’t vary the level; instead of drops the grain density of the granular module, which has a very similar effect). This developed out of the idea of different voices interrupting one another.

The patch is stereo throughout.

Controls:

Footswitches:

Left footswitch — cycles between different modes; in each mode, the middle and right stompswitches serve different purposes; a UI button in the bottom left corner changes color depending on the mode)

SEQUENCER MODE (blue) — the patch cycles through eight presets using a stochastic/random walk sequencer

Middle stompswitch — sets tap tempo** for the sequencer and the stutter effect; the stutter effect has a clock divider, located on the second page

Right stompswitch — pauses the sequencer; when the sequencer is paused, the different buttons surrounding the controls can be pressed to change “presets” (you can also do this while the sequencer is running); when paused, a blue light will appear beside the sequencer controls (see below)

STUTTER MODE (yellow) — the patch cycles through randomized grain sizes and detune amounts based on the stutter control (note: works even if the stutter is turned off; see below)

Middle stompswitch — sets tap tempo** for the stutter effect; the stutter effect has a clock divider, located on the second page

Right stompswitch — pauses the randomizer; if you chance upon a setting you like, you can pause the randomizer; when the randomizer is paused a yellow light will appear next to the shift chance control (see below)

** MIDI clock will override tap tempo if detected.

CONTROLLED RANDOM (white) — the randomization is controlled entirely by the footswitches

Middle stompswitch — randomize grain size and detune

Right stompswitch — only detune is randomized

Front panel:

Blue controls affect the sequencer:

Step chance — sets the probability that the sequencer will advance or not; higher values make it more likely that the sequencer will advance

Direction chance — sets the probability that the sequencer will step forward or backward; higher values make it more likely that the sequencer will move forward

What’s this mean? If the step chance is set to 50% and the direction chance is set to 75%, then half of the time when the sequencer receives a clock/beat signal, it will ignore. When it doesn’t ignore the signal and “advances” it has a 75% chance of moving forward to the next step, and a 25% chance of moving backwards to the previous step.

White controls affect the stutter control:

Stutter amount — this determines the probability that a stutter will occur (it also affects the length of a stutter, as the more often a stutter occurs, the more often two or more occur in succession); higher values = stutter is less likely to occur (this control is probably poorly named, but, hey, c’est la vie)

Stutter depth — sets the degree of change to grain density; higher values = lower grain density; if the stutter is moving quickly and the amount is higher (less stutters are produced), then changes in this control will be hard to identify; however, if the stutter is moving slowly and the amount is low, this can have the affect, at different depths, of producing changes in a sort of tremolo effect caused by the scarcity of the grains

Stutter on — turns the stutter effect off and on

Additionally, a pixel in the top left corner indicates when a stutter occurs (by blinking off; as it is tied to the probability gate used to determine stutters, it will blink, even if the stutter effect is turned off).

Yellow controls pertain to the STUTTER mode:

Shift chance — in STUTTER mode this determines the likelihood that a given stutter will accompany a change in grain density and detuning; higher values = more likely that a stutter will produce a shift in those values; at 0, no changes are produced, at 1 a change is produced every time the stutter occurs; this control continues to work even when the stutter effect is turned off

Aqua controls are global and affect the reverb’s sound:

Pre-delay — determines the onset of the reverb, but it also affects the sound of the reverb, particularly as it relates to pitch-shifting (this modulates the grain position of the granular module; since the granular module feeds back into itself, the amount of time between regenerations will affect the speed at which detuning becomes magnified)

Decay — sets the decay of the reverb

Detune spread — determines the range across which detune can occur; presets were selected with this control set at .500

Mix — a wet/dry mix

Octave up — shifts the pitch of the granular module up an octave; this does not produce a “shimmer” reverb in the traditional sense (it is much more… I’m at a loss for words here that aren’t overly subjective; I would say that it is not as “pretty” but I find it sort of eerily beautiful); it can create a very “metallic” (?) texture

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  • Category: Effect Sequencer Sound
  • Revision: 1.0
  • License: Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0
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  • Modified: 10 months ago
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5 comments on “Ghost in the shell — a sequenced, haunting reverb
  • tomikoo on said:

    The video alone is incredible. As an artist I highly appreciate you explaining these things so damn well. And the patch itself is amazing once again. Can’t help but think that Empress should really hire you. :)

  • tomikoo on said:

    Oh and: I need to start to think of having different sets of patches on my SD card, which I can then load up in the ZOIA’s memory. Starts to be a real battle royale of awesome patches with those 64 slots. :D (I hope Empress would eventually be able to extend the loading from SD-card directly)

  • Christopher H. M. Jacques on said:

    What firmware are you using? As of 1.05, you can access multiple folders on your SD.

    From the changelog:

    1.05 ( July 30, 2019 )
    ———————–
    – New Features:
    – Patches can now be loaded to and from ZOIA by selecting from a list of
    folders found on the SD card. The patch transfer options can be found in
    the configuration menu as “Patches to SD” and “Patches from SD”. When
    transferring patches to the SD card (from ZOIA) there will be an option to
    create a new folder on the SD card; when transferring patches from the SD card
    (to ZOIA) a backup folder will be created on the SD card. A limit of 64 folder
    options can be shown, and number of backup folders are limited to 256.
    ( as requested, thank you Brock Davisson ).

    You can find the most recent firmware (1.09) here: https://support.empresseffects.com/support/solutions/articles/1000275389-updating-firmware-on-the-zoia

    If you haven’t updated in a while, I suggest reading through the changelog thoroughly, just to see what new options you have.

  • tomikoo on said:

    Yeah, I’m using the latest firmware and I always read the change logs. It might be, that I’ve completely misunderstood that feature. I have to really try it properly ASAP. I just thought that the feature is so, that one can have multiple folders where patches can be TRANSFERRED into ZOIA’s memory, but not LOADED DIRECTLY from the SD-card to ZOIA’s memory (like HDD work on computers, HDD to RAM). If it really is so, that one can directly load a specific patch from SD, I’m gonna slap my own forehead for misunderstanding an existing feature I’ve been “waiting” for so much. :D

  • Christopher H. M. Jacques on said:

    Oh, no, it only works on a folder basis, yes.

    But that does mean you can prepare multiple folders to be loaded into the memory, so, if you wanted access to more patches, you could have a folder “Patches 1” (or whatever), fill that up, and then start a “Patches 2” folder, etc. You wouldn’t have access to the contents of an unloaded folder, but it would allow you to store more patches.

    I didn’t mean to mislead.

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