Clearmountain’s Phases is a continuation of the partnership between Apogee and the iconic mix engineer, bringing classic phasing and flanging in the box.
Bob Clearmountain is a pioneer of mixing (indeed, he’s acknowledged as being the very first specialist mix engineer) and has the resumé to prove it (think Springsteen, Bowie, The Stones, etc.). So it stands to reason that he has amassed a pretty neat box of toys over the years — go-to tools for dialling in his signature sound.
In recent years, he’s teamed up with Apogee to transform many of his hardware effects into plugins that are uniquely configured to his specifications. The latest, Clearmountain’s Phases, consolidates his favourite phasing and flanging tools, delivering a range of modulation options in one, user-friendly plugin.
When you first open up the plugin, it’s clear that this is a premium affair. It’s clear, ergonomically minded, and when you hover over a knob or switch, a detailed description in a dialogue box appears, telling you exactly what it does. Why don’t more companies do that?
Moving from left to right, you’ve got LFO syncing switches, stereo sweep rate tweakability, and module configuration (flanger only, phaser only, flanger into phaser and vice versa, and parallel). The ‘Auto Flanger’ and ‘Auto Phaser’ modules share similar controls, consisting of manual delay times, sweep frequency, feedback, bottom end rolloff, and more.
So how does it sound? Along with its professional aesthetic, it’s easy to hear the Clearmountain sonic influence. If you’ve heard any psych rock in the last decade, you’ll know that these kinds of deep modulation effects are definitely back in. This plugin makes it easy to dial in swirling drum kits and organ or synth pads in a second.
What I enjoyed even more, however, was its ability to subtly thicken and lend character to a bass guitar — especially when using the phaser module. An important reminder of its versatility in all kinds of mix situations.
To get you going though, there are dozens of presets curated by the man himself. To my mind, getting an insight into the workflow and taste of Bob Clearmountain via presets is worth the price of admission alone and an instant way to pull a great sound.
For more details, head over to Apogee.