Freakshow Industries has released Backmask, a $20 reverser effect in VST/AU/AAX plugin formats that you can steal and still not have to spend the night in the joint.
Every once in a while, a totally weird and unusual plugin will pop up on the market, puzzling the users and media members alike with its bizarre looks and features. Backmask seems to be our taste of weirdness for 2017. Officially described as a “chaotic reverser plugin built to make mum proud”, this one surely won’t be easy to categorize in your VST plugin folder.
The rest of the description on the product page doesn’t help, either, stating that “Backmask uses government approved paradox processing technologies to expose the hidden terrors of music”. But hey, that’s still better than a limiter using state of the art dynamic range compression algorithms to expose the hidden terrors of my mix.
Jokes aside, Backmask’s humorous concept reminds me of an old freebie called ‘You Wa Shock’ which looked similarly ridiculous on paper but was actually a rather decent plugin based on Image Line’s premium mastering tool called Maximus. Also, Music Radar stated in their article about Backmask that “the team behind Freakshow comprises three industry veterans”, so I’m only guessing that it could be linked to someone at Image Line. But those are just my wild speculations. And with all of that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at what Backmask actually does.
Backmask – What The Hell Is It?
Since the parameter labels on the user interface are as cryptic as labels get, the official answer is still – I have no idea. However, I did manage to figure out some of the most important stuff. The shamefully short paragraph below describes my findings so far.
In its default state, Backmask will split the audio input into chunks (the length of the chunks is defined by the large knob at the bottom of the interface) and reverse each section individually. The little knob on the left (labeled with crossed arrows) is a dry/wet knob and it works wonders when processing drum grooves, as you’ll hear in our soon-to-be-posted demo video. The hold switch at the bottom-right freezes one reversed section and loops it infinitely. The six buttons in the upper part of the interface activate different modes which I’m still figuring out, but most of them seem to work with different amounts and types of randomization. That’s all I have so far, you’re welcome.
UPDATE: Guided by my instincts and my ingenious deductive reasoning, I found that the question mark button in the bottom-right corner shows the correct labels for each control. Mystery solved.
Although it’s weird and freakish on the outside, Backmask is indeed an awesome reverse/glitch tool. It feels like I’m still merely scratching the surface here, but the plugin keeps spitting out surprisingly fun sounding results. The stability seems to be great (no glitches to report) and the CPU usage is minimal (around 1% on our test machine in MuLab).
The setup process is slightly annoying, though, as it will require a system restart to complete. I haven’t seen that in quite some time when installing plugins, or music software in general. You will also need to use the downloaded key file to activate your Backmask installation, but that is a rather painless affair.
The plugin is priced at $20 with free updates. However, the marketing team at Freakshow Industries decided to play around with the “pay what you want” concept, so they’re sort of letting anyone “steal” the plugin license if they choose to do so. They’re saying they might even provide support for your “stolen” license if you’re nice to them. The only real drawback here is that you’ll eventually need to choose the “I’m a d*ck” option (and you’re right, that’s not a duck) option at checkout to “steal” the license.
Alternatively, you can say that “money is tight” and donate a smaller amount, or choose to be the “all software should be free” guy in which case you’ll be offered to purchase some merch in exchange for a free license. All in all, it’s a generous payment concept and a rather fun and original checkout process.
Backmask is priced at $20 via Freakshow Industries (131 MB download size, EXE installer, 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).