I count myself one of the few lucky ones to have been switched on fairly early to Joel Korte’s side-project - Abracadabra Audio - mostly because I follow/ed the other key collaborator - Gabriel Tanaka’s Best Guitar Effects Blog site - which I am delighted to see has returned after several months’ hiatus.
Abracadabra Audio was a loose Artist Collective headed up by Joel and Gabriel - which brought in a number of different Illustrative and Technical Artists to do the pedal artworks - including most notably Hannah M. Haugberg of Zvex fame (4 series) and Carl Sandusky (4 series) - mostly featured above, plus variants by Aindriais ’Andy’ Dolan and Fiona Carlone - and collaborations with Dropping Acid Pedal Etching.
I first heard about the project around July 2017 courtesy of the Best Guitar Effects Blog - while there was still a lot of secrecy and mystery as to how you could actually acquire one such at the time. I believe I made a few enquiries and was told that the early batches were solely intended to be sold within North America - and that the process might open up later on for International customers - which happened almost a year later around June 2018 - when I was finally permitted to make an application to be considered for the honour of owning such a pedal.
I actually quite enjoyed that application process as it happened fairly sedately - and of course because I was allocated my first choice Acid-Etched edition - numbered #75 - which I realised much later on was obviously part of the Green>Magenta Fade Acid-Etched 8th series. I was kind of expecting to get one in the Pink>Blue Fade colorway series as that is one of the early examples I had seen, but was quite delighted when I realised that my particular colourway was the one based on the very original Gravitas Ayahuasca prototype as below.
I really admired the Abracadabra Audio application process and validation and the warning that whomsoever sought to profiteer / price gouge from the Ayahuasca would be barred from the project for life with eternal shame and damnation! I have though still seen a few too many Ayahuasca's on sale on Reverb.com for well in excess of £1,000 equivalent - which is obviously a breach of contract. I will never let go of my #75 - if you ever come across that in the wild it will be because it has been pilfered!
For some reason I also overlooked the fact that Chris Bradford was involved in the design of the fuzz - an Os Mutantes Regulus VIII High Gain Fuzz Face variant - which Chris's Mini Wee Beaver Fuzz is/was also based on - one of my all-time favourite mini-fuzzes as featured several times on this site. In any case Joel and Chris combined the best aspects of the Gravitas with the best of the Wee Beaver Fuzz and added in a new super-versatile tone-stack. The Tremolo also differs from the Gravitas in having 2 NOS Vactrols (resistive opto-isolators) which give it an even more choppier feel.
Needless to say - this is one of my favourite all time fuzzes. I already had and loved the Gravitas - and Joel does some further internal electronic trickery to make the Fuzz work even better with the Tremolo and vice-versa - which cannot be achieved to the same extend by using the original Gravitas wit ANO fuzz e.g. say running a Wee Beaver Fuzz into a Gravitas.
I also somehow expected there to be more Ayahuasca's in the world - I didn't realise then that mine was from a run of just 10 units and that the first 10 runs / series consisted of just 10 units each. With the final chapter offering being comprised of as many as all those that had come before! Obviously the 100 were snapped up in seconds (15 mins) - the email arrived late on Saturday night for us in the UK - and I'm pretty sure most UK citizens would have not got to the order form in time even if they managed to see the email in a timely fashion. So I'm doubly grateful that I could participate at a more leisurely pace back in 2018. Note that only 100 were made as that was all that remained of the stock of Ayahuasca boards.
There was talk that there might be different devices coming through the Abracadabra collaboration, but it seems that said associations has now being decommissioned as such - possibly a new one will spring up when another suitable new prototype is ready to be put forward.
In any case I'm not going to regurgitate all of Gabriel Tanaka's very fine work - per his quite superb write-up on the Chase Bliss Audio Blog. I would have preferred a few more date stamps in the mix - but you cannot fault the quality or depth of his reporting - which is just the sort of thing that appeals to me - like a slightly more spaced out and elegant extrapolation of the Kit Rae Big Muff Page variety - fantastically rich in authentic detail!
I'm sad to see the Ayahuasca retired, while relieved at the same time that I was able to participate. I hope Joel and Gabriel collaborate again soon - after all it seems like that's Joel's favourite thing to do these days. We're obviously waiting for the Automatone CXM 1978 Reverb to materialise - in collaboration with Meris, while it seems that Joel has also got something cooking with his former mentor Zachary Vex! Add that to 5,000+ MOOD pedals sold to-date and around 1,000 Automatone Preamp MKII's - and it's quite evident that Chase Bliss Audio is on something of a roll at the moment ..
I have arranged my 9 favourite Ayahuasca enclosures in thematic order - where my own personal favourites are the Carl Sandusky + Dropping Acid Pedal Etching collaborations - per the middle row. All the designs are attractive really bar series 5 which did not have an associated artist as such and I felt was rather too rudimentary for my preferences. The other one missing here is the very original Series 1 Jungle - which I sill like - I just prefer the 9 pictured ones!
SERIES 1 : #1-10 (not pictured)
'Jungle' by Hannah M. Haugberg - inspired by the Amazon Jungle
SERIES 2 : #11-20
'Shipibo' by Hannah M. Haugberg - inspired by the Art of the Shipibo Women of the Peruvian Amazon
SERIES 3 : #21-30
'Cielo' / 'Ayahuasca Cielo' by Hannah M. Haugberg - another Jungle + Sky inspired artwork
SERIES 4 : #31-40
'Ceremnony' by Aindriais Dolan - inspired by previous Ayahuasca artworks
SERIES 5 : #41-50 (not pictured)
'Acid Etched' by Jack Nolan of Dropping Acid Pedal Etching - no other associated artist, rudimentary design
SERIES 6 : #51-60
'Spirit Molecule' by Carl Sandusky and Dropping Acid Pedal Etching - largely a typographical design with new fonts and dimethyltryptamine molecule motif - all etched into two-tone pink>blue fade
SERIES 7 : #61-70
'Vision Quest' by Hannah M. Haugberg - colourful psychedelic inspired design
SERIES 8 : #71-80
'Spirit Molecule II' by Carl Sandusky and Dropping Acid Pedal Etching - second iteration of etched 2-tone fade design - this time with same green>magenta colourway as the original Ayahuasca themed Gravitas prototype pedal
SERIES 9 : #81-90
'AYA' by Fiona Carlone - a highly detailed colourful design with elements right across the 5 visible facets of the pedal. Somewhat inspired by but a little more intricate and adjacent to Hanna M. Hauberg's earlier designs
SERIES 10 : #91-100
'Sprit Molecule III' by Carl Sandusky and Dropping Acid Pedal Etching - final acid-etched 2-tone variant, this time with a black>red colourway
SERIES 11 : #101-200
'The Clearing' by Carl Sandusky - an all new UV-printed artwork with sort of graphic novel theme
Make sure you read Gabriel Tanaka's Chase Bliss Audio Ayahuasca Blog Post for the full details!