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Review of Junior Bill s/t EP — March 17, 2019

Review of Junior Bill s/t EP


Formed in 2013, Junior Bill have been through a few incarnations, but the writing talents of Rob Nichols have combined with keyboard & synth player Joel Beswick and bassist Rory Saunders since the bands inception. The five-piece is currently completed by drummer Jim Strickland and newest member Luke Owen on vocals, samples and guitar. Junior Bill’s live show has been highly praised for its enthralling energy and has earned them the reputation of being one of the best new acts in Wales.

The self-titled Junior Bill EP has infectious grooves, sax, great vocals and a really tight-knit sound that gives a superb vibe to this EP, it’s a sound somewhere between ska, dub and reggae.

There’s also a great energy to this EP, the arrangements and production are spot on.

There’s a Wolf in Grangetown

Delayed dub effects to open, tight-knit drumming, bass and guitar create an excellent groove. The vocals are superb with a great passion.

Romas

Recording of children’s voices to open, vocals and synth build to a wicked groove from bass and guitar propelled by drumming. Superb vocals again, the Sax adds a great element to the song. 

The Butetown Rats

Spoken vocals to open, shimmery guitar chords, drums and bass give momentum. Great change in feel and the organ is excellent, it really adds to the feel. There’s more of an edgy feel to this song.

Old Cardiff Winds

Excellent groove to open, stripped back feel when vocals start before drumming and bass enter to give momentum. Great changes in feel, it has a kind of jam quality with some excellent delayed effects / feedback before returning to the groove. 

Keep up with Junior Bill:

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Review of Sounding Nature – reimagined sounds album by various artists for Cities and Memory — March 12, 2019

Review of Sounding Nature – reimagined sounds album by various artists for Cities and Memory

This is a superb album comprising the best submissions to the Cities and Memory Sounding Nature Project.

The 16 songs cover a range of styles from ambient, noise / drone to glitchy and IDM.  There are excellent soundscapes and great use of field recordings both as background sounds and processed for use as rhythmic elements. 

In the Storm (Iceland) – Richard Watts

Atmospheric opening from a tremelo type effect and rhythmic percussive sound, a contrast between ambience and the more uptempo organ riff and synth riff. Excellent layering and a building tension. 

The Fate of Bees (England)

A slow evolving opening evokes the feeling of a colony of Bees, orchestration and sound effects are used very subtly to create movement. Its a haunting track. 

With Whispering Ambitions (USA) – Jeff Dungfelder

Rain, sound effects and delayed vocals create a soundscape given momentum by a more defined percussive rhythm. I really like how the layering creates movement and fluidity, for example, as the rain intensifies it has a bass or drone kind of feel, similarly a delayed percussive element has bassline qualities at times. 

Broken Dawn (Vietnam) – Matt Chapman Jones

Evolving atmospheric opening from strings, a breathing sound and heartbeat from a kick changes to a much edgier feel as the distortion / noise builds to create a tenser sound ending with feedback. 

Infinite Nightingale (England)

A beautiful opening from piano with delayed Nightingale sounds, strings and bass add movement and a subtle tension at times. It’s a captivating song. 

Meadow (Laos) – Qush Abdul (leholyghost)

An edgy / glitchy opening builds to a more defined rhythm with great interplay between spoken descriptions and synth lead lines, sound effects and feedback. 

Fifty-Nine Degrees North (Finland) – Chris Ray (Enisle)

Ambient opening from sound effects and synth sounds, excellent layering creates a soundscape with bass, sound effects, synth leads and subtle momentum from a percussive rhythm. It’s a superbly ambient track that has an edge of tension. 

The Hour Glass (Senegal) – Nick Jones

An edgy song from spoken words and a wind type of sound. Subtle distortion with delayed and layered vocals add a great tension.

A Secretive Call (Scotland) – Alex Hehir

An ambient glitchy opening from delayed and processed bird sounds that takes on a more menacing feel with the evolving bassline and transforms superbly into an IDM kind of feel with momentum with the drumming pattern and synth chords.

Baboons Dance (Senegal) – Ricky Milano

Atmospheric opening from Baboon calls and synth chords, synth bass enters with intricate percussive rhythm from layered processed baboon calls. It’s very cleverly done, slow evolution of the song into an ambient techno / IDM type of sound releasing to baboon calls to end.

Protect the 62% (Slovenia) 

Atmospheric opening from pad, synth chords and bird calls, there’s a subtle movement given momentum from hi-hat and kick drum leading into a full drum pattern with excellent glitchy elements and a kind of decline / collapse to end.

Wales Tanat Valley Epic Thunder (Wales) – Andy Lyon

OK so this is my entry, I’ve tried to create an ambient / neo-classical piece with subtle orchestration around elements of the storm but feel free to make your own conclusions! 

English Lullaby (England) – Kieran Mahon

Noise / drone with strings and background insects fades as an evolving delayed plucked string riff emerges into a lullaby before fading away leaving the noise / drone, insects and strings. 

Dream (Canada) – Karhide

Delayed percussive sounds lead into metallic synth type sounds, it’s an edgy atmosphere, industrial type of sound. 

The Siren Call (England) – Rob Knight 

Opening strings with evolving background sea sound creates an atmospheric piece with just an edge of tension. There’s a great movement in the sound, the arrangement is superb. 

The Cornfield of Forking Paths (USA) – Marco Colocci

A glitchy opening from insects, rustling and rattling type sounds, it has a tape loop kind of feel evolving with a contrasting ambience from strings. 

Review of eDNA Earth – A synthesiser made of orchestras – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio — March 4, 2019

Review of eDNA Earth – A synthesiser made of orchestras – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio

Introduction

Spitfire Audio is proudly reintroducing eDNA EARTH — enriching its epic collection of synthesised orchestral sounds created from ten years’ worth of widely-used, wide-ranging organic orchestral live recordings with which it has made its notable name as a British music technology company that specialises in sounds, this time warped or morphed into different textures and amazing state-of-the-art electronic soundscapes, served up via an easy-to-use, ultra-controllable GUI giving access to all areas of new sonic experimentation, enhanced with support for Native Instruments’ NKS (Native Kontrol Standard®) extended plug-in format for all virtual instrument developers (delivering seamless software connection to the German giant’s cutting-edge KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE hardware for intuitive interaction).

eDNA EARTH can be purchased and digitally downloaded typically priced at £149.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$149.00 USD/€149.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from Spitfire Audio

For more in-depth information, including some superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated eDNA EARTH webpage

Watch Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson’s ‘traditional’ video walkthrough of eDNA EARTH

Watch fellow Spitfire Audio Directors Christian Henson and Paul Thomson telling the story behind eDNA EARTH

eDNA EARTH needs Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER (5.6.8 or higher) — included in the purchase — to run as a fully NKS (NATIVE KONTROL STANDARD®) supporting plug-in instrument for Mac (OS X 10.10 or later) or Windows (7, 8, or 10 — latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit), while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application allows anyone to buy now and download anytime.

Background

eDNA EARTH is based around a collection of 1,900-plus basic instruments, mangled into over 1,000 custom presets professionally programmed by the talented team at Spitfire Audio during several months. The proprietary eDNA Engine — a sample-synthesiser powerhouse that can combine two sounds and modulate between them with envelopes, filters, and wobbles per sound, as well as a gate sequencer and a selection of go-to effects — driving those hard-won results is, itself, effectively user-driven by a GUI that’s as easy on the eye as it is easy to use, ultimately allowing for a wide range of genres and cinematic settings. Simply select by sound type — Atmos, Bass, Drones and Scapes, Drums and Percussion, FX, Keys, Leads, Pads and Strings, Sequences and Plucks, or Synthetic Orchestra — and play. Put it this way: with such depth of content — from beautifully refined dynamic crossfades to turbo-charged tempo synced, gated, and phased wonders — readily accessible, anyone playing each carefully crafted sound for only 30 seconds would need 15 hours to listen to each and every instrument and patch available! And that’s before tweaking to make more of their own.

On top of that, the eDNA Engine itself is made up of seven so-called ‘cartridges’ — each curated by a different composer or engineer, each focusing on a distinct sonic style; perfectly positioned presets abound — all arranged by sound type, but users can also browse by cartridge, both from within the eDNA EARTH GUI or directly from Native Instruments’ cutting-edge KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE hardware, thanks to that newly-implemented NKS support… no mouse or trackpads (necessarily) needed!

eDNA EARTH cartridges currently comprise: ANALOGUE (digital verses analogue synth battles, made using Spitfire Audio co-founder Christian Henson’s hallowed vintage synthesiser collection of Junos, Jupiters, Moogs, and MS20s, creating a whole new world of sonic opportunities); BROKEN (pseudo-organic atmospheres, crossfades, drones, effects, and pads curated by Harnek Mudhar, a Spitfire Audio engineer with his finger firmly on the pulse, successfully spanning the hinterland between organic orchestral material and raw synth sounds — almost like earthly instruments, but slightly warped); CINEMATIC (modern hybrid synths for the big screen, curated by multi-award-winning composer Christian Henson); DARK (series of chaotic, frenzied, dystopian sounds — from searing leads to super-fat basses and atmospheric, eerie pads, suitable for the grittier end of dance music while also adding edge to hybrid blockbuster and trailer work); RETRO (mainstream zeitgeist synths and patterns by resident Spitfire Audio sonic wizard Stanley Gabriel, adding an extra dimension to pop and dance music); TRANCE (EDM classics and next-generation dance, rhythmic synths, and epic drops, taking users on a journey from quirky 8-bit vintage game console sounds through to ambient techno and minimal house); and WARPED (ever-changing soundscapes — hold down a sound and move the modulation wheel very slowly, since such sounds are programmed to morph beyond all recognition via vibrant shimmering paths).

As an evidently elated Christian Henson himself says: “So we’ve updated eDNA; the sounds are a lot easier to browse, it’s now NKS-compatible, and I’m actually working on a new cartridge at the moment, which I’m quite excited about — always a joy to work with EARTH!”

Working with the enriched encyclopaedia of cinematic synth sounds that is eDNA EARTH is, indeed, a joyful and musically-enthralling experience, one which benefits from fellow Spitfire Audio co-founder Paul Thomson’s thoughtful consideration as to why, exactly, content that is organic at origin yet sounds synthetic mixes better with live or orchestral elements: “It’s about having depth in the sound, as opposed to a slightly two-dimensional sound. Even though you can get a synth sound that appears to have a depth in the soundstage, there’s something about a sound that’s recorded in a space that has a kind of spacial depth. When Quincy Jones worked on Michael Jackson’s albums, a lot of the synths were played out into the room and then re-amped, basically, in order to get a kind of sonic depth to the sound. So I think that what we’ve done — by starting with a sound that was recorded in a 3D space and then kind of imposing synthetic texture on to it — is retain that depth within the sound.”

Wise words there from a sound musical mind. Musically, then, eDNA EARTH has been created with film, TV, and games music in mind, offering endless inspiration to the next generation of media composers, whether wishing to go ‘off world’ — following in the bold footsteps of Greek genius Vangelis, whose inspirational futuristic fusion characterised the timeless score to visionary director Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir science fiction film classic Bladerunner, which, in Christian Henson’s equally wise words, “…was synthetic but approached from an orchestral arrangement POV…” — or keeping their musical feet firmly planted here on earth! Either way, eDNA EARTH should also appeal to dance and pop producers wanting to add cutting-edge, cinematic electronic textures to their music — made even easier by Spitfire Audio coming back to (eDNA) EARTH with an enriched encyclopaedia of cinematic synth sounds!

Conclusions

eDNA Earth uses Spitfire Audio’s heritage to create an incredible sounding instrument that is equally at home producing cinematic synths, soundscapes and drones, cutting edge EDM sounds and so much more.

Don’t be fooled or put off that this is a sample based synthesiser, Spitfire Audio samples are always superb quality and they have used about 1,900 samples to create more than 1,000 presets. The range of sounds is staggering, it is incredibly versatile. The presets are ready to use straightaway and sound excellent, you’ll easily find hundreds that you like – whatever style of music you create. The sheer number of presets is probably more than you’d ever need, you’d get brilliant results just using these. That said, you’ll be missing out because Earth offers extensive tweaking and modulation options for you to fine-tune and/or add your own touch to the sounds.

I’ve used it exclusively on the track embedded at the top of this review that I created for a recent NaviarHaiku challenge. The song was scoped out using Scaler and sounds are processed with a range of Eventide effects.

Using eDNA Earth

The interface is really well designed, it has a modern look and feel.

It’s not like some of the other Spitfire Audio interfaces, it is much more like a synthesiser. Each preset comprises of two samples, A and B that have typical synthesiser controls such as filter, envelope, tune, pan as well as volume, pitch and filter wobble controls. There is scope to sculpt each of these sounds individually and adjust the mix between them. You can set a static mix level or adjust with the mod wheel or LFO for movement.

The optional gate sequencer is an excellent addition.

The ‘easy effects’ can be seen at the bottom of the main screen in the FX dash section. That said, there is a separate page for fx and motor accessed by clicking at the bottom of the screen. This page shows the complexity of the effects section, there are separate insert effects for A and B, a shared set of send fx called AUX fx, motor fx and master fx. The motor fx are really interesting. The motors are two LFOs with two sub_LFO sub-motors. The LFO motor can be a mix of waveforms and used to modulate one or more parameters of one of the FX modules in the Motor FX set. The sub-motor can modulate the frequency and/or the strength of the corresponding primary motor.

You can access each of these effect layers by clicking on the appropriate text. The effects do vary by layer with controls for the selected effect displayed underneath. There’s an excellent selection of effects including a convolution reverb with a number of impulses and the option to use your own.

Review of ‘Television Themes’ album by Matt Berry on Acid Jazz Records — February 11, 2019

Review of ‘Television Themes’ album by Matt Berry on Acid Jazz Records

Matt Berry is a British actor, voice-over artist and comedian known for appearing in Toast of London, The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and House of Fools amongst others. 

When you see he’s released an album of Television Themes, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s some kind of spoof. But Matt Berry is a serious musician,  having already released four albums on acid jazz records plus a number of other releases. 

For anyone who grew up in eighties Britain, these tunes are likely to be very familiar. The album is a nostalgic trip through your childhood and some programs you’d watch with your parents. For example, the mere sight of ‘Thames Television’ conjures up the image with London monuments emblazened with THAMES in large white letters across the middle and the ‘der-der-der-der-derr-duh-duh-der’ theme. Maybe that’s just me. 

The album tends to largely stay true to covers of the original themes rather than remixing, remaking or reimagining them.  This means they’ve been modernised but still retain the essence of those original tunes. What’s interesting whilst listening to this album is that you realise that even though you heard a lot of these on a weekly basis, you didn’t really listen to them. This highlights the talents of the original composers that are often overlooked and in a way the prowess of Matt Berry and his band the Maypoles preserves this heritage. Viewed in this way the album is a statement and definitely not a novelty offering. 

The included songs are :

Are You Being Served? 

The Good Life 

LWT

Blankety Blank

Top of The Pops

Picture Box

The Liver Birds 

Thames Television

Rainbow

Doctor Who

Wildtrak

World in Action

Sorry

Open University

Review of ‘Caught in the Noise’ EP by Mod Exist on Uncle Bob’s Records — February 10, 2019

Review of ‘Caught in the Noise’ EP by Mod Exist on Uncle Bob’s Records

This was released a year ago back in February 2018 and has slipped through the net somewhat, however, it’s an excellent EP with a great diversity of electronic styles and influences from ambient dub, ambient techno to synth wave to industrial. 

It’s a really well produced EP with great layering and contrast between softer ambient sounds and harsher electronic bleeps and klangs.

Count Our Time in Threes

Opens with a kind of siren and metallic bang leading into a solid 4:4 kick rhythm. There’s excellent layering of atmospheric background sounds contrasting with harsher metallic elements and electronic bleeps and blips that creates a solid techno groove balanced against a dark ambient soundscape. 

The Meanwhile of Life

Opens with an arp giving an urgency and the slightly hectic feel remains through the song. A 4:4 kick rhythm provides a contrasting consistency. There’s acid / rave elements at times and again great layering to contrast harsher elements with more atmospheric ones. 

To All the Great People in the World

An edgy opening with layered background sounds, the 4:4 kick is subdued and has a tension against percussive sounds. There’s a dark / industrial vibe to the song, vocals really add to the atmosphere. 

Loneliness is the Most Beautiful Thing

Quite an uptempo opening from riff and drumming, there’s a tension, almost dissonance at times and the song has a great contrast between the lead synth and harsher metallic type sounds. The tension builds to a drum and bass sound releasing to an edgy ambience. 

Trips Like Sweets

An 80’s influenced song with an industrial edge, it has a great groove and solid vibe. The metallic percussion sounds are excellent and vocals have a robotic feel that really adds to the tension. 

Review of Khords virtual instrument (64bit VST / AU) by Loopmasters — February 8, 2019

Review of Khords virtual instrument (64bit VST / AU) by Loopmasters

Introduction

Loopmasters have introduced Khords, a focused instrument that brings sampled personality and classic character to your productions. It is available in VST / AU versions – 64 bit only – and is available from PluginBoutique typically priced at £69.95

Overview

What I love about Khords is how much fun and inspiration it brings to making music. It has the feel of an old school sampler but with the benefits of a modern sound and interface. 

It comes with 315 samples and about 550 presets yet still Khords offers so much more potential.  You can easily create your own sounds with a major, minor or open chord feel by layering two samples and then shape your sound with filters, effects and modulation LFOs. 

Khords encourages you to dive and experiment, it’s easy to use, sounds great and offers huge creative potential. Just playing through the presets you can get a feel for what Khords can do, there are some excellent old school jungle and rave sounds, as well as techno and more chilled, ambient vibes. You can easily create whole songs or use it to create atmospheres, textures or melodies.

I’ve used Khords to create the tracks embedded above. These are somewhere between deep tech, minimal and techno. All of the sounds were created in Khords, drum beats and vocals were sourced using Loopcloud. The songs were arranged and produced in MuLab and were scoped out using Scaler. Sounds were processed using a range of Eventide and Glitchmachines effects. The songs were mastered in MuLab using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Youlean Loudness Meter.

In-Depth Review

The interface is clean and well laid out. At the top of the display is the preset bar with load and save options. The 550 presets are arranged in categories with an example of some of the pad presets shown below:

The display is split into three sections with one set of controls for the chord layer, one for the note layer and the voice, effects and master settings at the bottom.

The chord and note layers both have the same controls and can play any of the samples. The samples are arranged by major, minor, root or open or you can load a random sample. Each layer has an ADSR envelope, transpose and handy stretch feature to change the speed and formant ( frequency signature). There are 12 different filter types, a range of low pass, band pass and high pass with 6, 12, 18 or 24 dB/octave slopes and some ladder types also. The pre-drive is an excellent addition along with keytrack, filter envelope and filter LFO that enable you to shape your sound further. The master transpose control sits between the two layers.

Khords has 3 effects – chorus, delay and reverb. These are well featured and sound good although you can of course use external effects if preferred. I like how the signal routing is not fixed and you can use these effects in any order.

The master effects section contains a frequency booster which is effectively a multiband compressor with dry/wet, top, middle and bottom frequency controls. There’s also a master level control.

The voice section enables you to choose between portamento, glide and legato settings. You can also use the pitchbend wheel to change to pitch on the fly or use the mod wheel to control up to four different parameters with a single control.

ZAOR Studio Furniture develops desk product line with workflow-focused Maestro series — January 27, 2019

ZAOR Studio Furniture develops desk product line with workflow-focused Maestro series

ORADEA, ROMANIA: studio furniture designer and manufacturer ZAOR Studio Furniture is proud to announce availability of its Maestro series — symbolising a new line of workflow-focused desk developments.

A Maestro is often defined as a distinguished conductor or performer of classical music — or, alternatively, a distinguished figure in any sphere. So, given that ZAOR Studio Furniture’s latest line of desk designs were developed in close collaboration with some of the best mastering/mixing professionals around, as well as manufacturers of some of the best mastering gear available anywhere, such as award-winning audio gear developer SPL, the Maestro moniker is, indeed, highly appropriate. As such, the new product line’s many features were carefully chosen to suit.

Starting with the larger Maestro 36, all aspects of its intended workflow were thoroughly analysed with new or improved solutions implemented for each as a direct result. Reality dictates that mastering Maestros will form its primary — though not necessarily exclusive — user base, so, since they will be applying final polishing touches to the sound of mixes or edits, listening experience enhancement lies at the heart of this thoroughbred design: an extra low profile prevents the desk from getting in the way of the all-important sound reproduction, aided by back-sited VMT absorption panels by self-styled Innovative Acoustics Solutions provider Vicoustic to minimise chaotic reflections and resonances, while the work surface itself is made from AERstop, an acoustic material that reduces reflections and deftly doubles as a mouse pad. Perfectly sized, an armrest aids smooth typing and reduces wrist stress.

Since Maestro 36 itself is effectively more ‘air’ than structure, sound is not boxed in — improving the listening experience from an acoustic standpoint; it also allows air to flow freely — keeping working temperatures at optimal operating levels. Additionally, a dual (audio/power) cable path separates signals from power leads, thereby keeping hum and other inductive noise to a minimum. Meanwhile, chrome bars with pre-fitted Velcro strips allow for fast and clean (re-)cabling.

As implied by name, Maestro 36 features 36 rack units, ultimately divided into three sections of 12U apiece, angled upwards at a gentle incline across the desk to accommodate all the tools essential to the job at hand. Here they are positioned within easy reach, realising focused workflow within a minimal footprint. Furthermore, an additional 18U of forward-facing rack space — split into three 6U sections — can be installed at floor level where visual contact is less important; installing only 12U of forward-facing rack space (split into the two 6U sections located to the left and right) as an alternative allows the user to stretch their legs in the space between them while working. Behind the angled rack units is a flat plane — lowered so as not to impede sound travel — that can comfortably carry computer screens at eye-level, near-field monitors — sited on optional isolators to avoid sound transmission through the desk itself, which would lead to smearing in the lower frequencies — for cross-checking mixes, and/or metering… nothing superfluous, nothing amiss, as ergonomics and acoustics are beautifully integrated to live together in perfect harmony. Mr McCartney might well approve; at any rate, his chosen mastering engineer would — with certainty!

Again, as implied by name, the smaller Maestro 24 tempts users with packing 24U of the most essential pieces of rack gear (in two sections of 12U angled at a gentle incline) across a desk design superficially similar to its Maestro 36 bigger brother to form a processing powerhouse suited to smaller spaces with all attributes present and correct — cue padded armrest, dual cable path, low profile, acoustic optimisation, and integrated mouse pad. Again, taking its innovative design cues from its Maestro 36 bigger brother, an additional 12U of forward-facing rack space — split into two 6U sections this time — can be installed at floor level.

Literally symbolising a new line of workflow-focused desk developments, then, the family Maestro members are constructed from MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) and hand-selected solid wood to cater for today’s production-savvy pro audio specialist. Simply put, they each encompass everything engineers, musicians, and producers always dreamed of owning. Of course, now that dream has become reality — realised as compact, great-looking, and affordable packages available to anyone. All are flat packed for easy transportation and assembled and disassembled easily, thanks to professional hardware.

Handily, the must-see Maestro series will be showcased by ZAOR Studio Furniture on Booth 17214 at The 2019 NAMM Show, January 24-27 in Anaheim, California. Come check them out!

Maestro 36 and Maestro 24 are available to order (in Cherry Black, Silver Black, or Black finishes), either directly through the Zaor Online Shop — including free shipping within the EU — or via ZAOR Studio Furniture’s growing global dealership network with respective RRPs of €2,999.00 EUR and €2,399.00 EUR, including tax.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Maestro 36 product webpage and the Maestro 24 product webpage.

Review of Single Rider album by Jenn Champion — January 20, 2019

Review of Single Rider album by Jenn Champion

This is a beautiful, engaging and absorbing album, a modern sound with an 80’s soulful vibe, piano tracks and a touch of country at times. There’s an edge of sadness but with hope, an optimistic outlook. 

I really like how the arrangements cleverly build tension or subtly change momentum. The vocals are superb, there’s a vulnerability and edge of sadness that you really connect with. 

O.M.G (I’m All Over It)

An 80’s soulful vibe, there’s a kind of staccato guitar lead line, drumming, bass and synth with both pad and effects. The vocals are beautiful, there’s an edge of sadness and vulnerability. 

Coming For You

Another song with an 80’s vibe, it’s a laid back groove with reflective qualities. The groove is provided by drumming and bass with lovely vocals again. A subtle change of momentum in the chorus. Synth riff adds an excellent element. 

You Knew

Synth effect and bassline to open, the ambience of the pad contrasts really well. The vocals are excellent again. There’s a soulful vibe with a building tension, the saxophone adds an excellent element. 

Holding On

An uptempo drumming pattern to open with subtle bass and I love the guitar riff. The vocals are superb again, a great vibe to the song with nice changes in feel and excellent layering / contrast of different elements.

The Move

A slow building tension to the opening given momentum by drumming. Superb edge of sadness to the vocals. Layering of guitar riff, percussion and synth chords build tension superbly. 

Never Giving In

Softly sung / spoken vocals accompanied by synth to open, the abrupt ending gives a great tension. There’s more defined momentum from bass and synth riff. The song builds and releases tension really well. 

Mainline

Drumming pattern and filtered bass create a subtle groove given momentum by synth and bass. Excellent changes in feel and great contrast between uptempo and more ambient elements. 

Time to Regulate

A disco / funk vibe from drumming, percussion and synth. Vocals are superb again. A great vibe with changes in feel and an edge sadness tinged with optimism. 

Bleed

Almost country feel to the opening with piano and strings, beautiful vocals again. It’s downtempo with a really optimistic feel.

Hustle

An arrangement of piano and vocals creates a beautiful, reflective song with excellent changes in pace and building of tension. 

Going Nowhere

A dreamy ambience from piano and vocals, it’s another beautiful song building tension with superb layering of synth riffs and sparse percussion. 

No One (Piano Version)

Beautiful arrangement of piano and vocals, it’s a captivating song, a haunting beauty and really sad feel to the lyrics. 

Time to Regulate – Gold Brother remix

An excellent remix, a more stripped back feel compared to the original with chillstep elements. 

Review of Old Mountain by Good Good Blood on Fox Food Records — January 18, 2019

Review of Old Mountain by Good Good Blood on Fox Food Records

There’s a great vibe to this album, it’s an indie sound with a solid nostalgic feel with hints of folk and psychedelia. The arrangements are excellent giving space for each element. Old Mountain is a dreamy, floaty feeling album edged with a sadness. 

Old Mountain

An acapella track with great harmonies, it has a nostalgic type of feel and sets the scene for the album.

Bury Heads

Acoustic guitar chords to open, it has a warm, nostalgic feel with great vocal harmonies. It has a laid back feel with a subtle change in pace with the introduction of drumming and bass. 

Cannot Be Forever Yours

Tremelo strings to open, the snare adds a tension with a sparse piano melody. The octave bass adds momentum. The vocals have a dreamy type of quality with an edge of sadness. 

Seven Seconds

Psychedelic sounding guitar riff to open, picked riff adds a momentum. Vocals have a dreamy, ethereal quality. It’s a beautiful song. 

Glass Sky

Drum pattern to open with emerging synth / sound effects, female vocals this time with a similar dreamy, ethereal quality. 

Strymon shifts stereo multi-head delay focus to pedalboards with Volante Magnetic Echo Machine marvel — January 17, 2019

Strymon shifts stereo multi-head delay focus to pedalboards with Volante Magnetic Echo Machine marvel

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, USA: literally following in the footsteps of its first foray into the Eurorack small-format modular market with its Magneto Four Head dTape Echo & Looper module, shipping soon after a successful showcase at The 2018 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, powerful processing effects developer Strymon is proud to announce its Volante Magnetic Echo Machine followup — focusing its innovative design on radically enhancing the sonic expressiveness of pedalboards as a stereo multi-head delay that also offers a looper and vintage spring reverb, with powerful sound-sculpting controls for limitless sonic possibilities.

As implied by the Magnetic Echo Machine legend boldly blazoned across an attractive, rugged, road-ready, yet functional front facia that should feel familiar to owners of Strymon’s similar-sized effect pedals such as the award-winning BigSky (multidimensional reverb) or TimeLine (multidimensional delay) — or, for that matter, its inspirational Magneto Four Head dTape Echo & Looper module with which it shares some controls and design DNA, Volante features magnetic drum, tape, and (reel-to-reel) studio echo as a stereo multi-head delay that also offers a looper and vintage reverb. Reality dictated that Strymon relentlessly studied and faithfully recreated every last magnetic delay system attribute to capture the nuance and complexity of classic tape and drum echo machines — from sought-after natural saturation and soft clipping of magnetic media when driven hard to hands-on, real-time controls for MECHANICS, WEAR, SPACING, and LOW CUT, Volante instantly adds tons of vibe to any user’s sound.

Situated at the center of Volante’s control surface are four delay playback heads with individual playback and feedback controls — each head’s playback level can be set for full volume, half volume, or off, and each head can be switched in or out of the feedback circuit. Creatively, users can even switch heads into the feedback circuit that are not activated for playback, putting the creation of complex rhythmic patterns, as well as reverb-like atmospheric textures, at anyone’s fingertips.

Fortunately for fearless users, Volante not only delivers the warm, luscious delay signals that magnetic tape machines are known for, it is also capable of a high degree of saturation — simply turn up the REC LEVEL knob to increase the gain of Volante’s analog class-A JFET input preamp circuit, sending a hot signal with analog warmth to the record head for facilitating any amount of saturation.

Some classic tape echo machines included small integrated spring reverb tanks tuned to limited bandwidth. Strymon skilfully captured this vintage vibe for Volante by creating a spring reverb with a gorgeous, gentle character that stands up to scrutiny on its own while also enhancing delayed signals.

Some vintage multi-head tape echo machines’ heads were not evenly spaced, which created interesting sonic interactions when multiple heads were set to repeat. Volante far from disappoints on that score; spacing is continuously variable for the entire travel of the SPACING knob, morphing between the available even, triplet, golden, and silver settings — the latter two ratios respectively realising dense, non-overlapping echoes and non-overlapping echoes biased toward the quarter note.

Needless to say, Volante also allows users to set the pan of each head individually for spacious, multi-head stereo delays. By default, all heads are panned center, with Volante still creating a pleasing psychoacoustic stereo image.

Imaging notwithstanding, Volante really sings when pushed to extremes! All the richly evolving, super-spacey sonic textures imaginable are available by turning up its REPEATS knob. Intuitive and responsive hands-on control for sculpting the feedback is also at hand.

Handily, Volante’s SPEED switch selects the speed of the recording media, allowing users to run any of its three magnetic echo machines at half, normal, or double speed; fidelity is higher at higher speeds, while lower speeds result in warmer repeats and more pronounced effects from mechanical and media irregularities introduced when turning up the MECHANICS knob.

By being designed from the ground up to radically enhance the sonic expressiveness of pedalboards, performance is clearly central to Volante’s raison d’être. Delayed psychedelic feedback sounds can be unleashed on command when working in Echo mode by pressing and holding the ON footswitch to activate Infinite Repeats; regardless of the current REPEATS setting, Volante will crank up echo regenerations for quick-building delay feedback — foot off of the switch results in Volante returning to the previous setting.

Speaking of performance, Volante can create dynamic loops that degrade and evolve. Change direction at the touch of a (reverse) footswitch. Press pause for a mechanical tape stop effect. Change the speed of the loop and simultaneously change the pitch in octave increments. Find an inspiring sound in Echo mode, and all echoes remain intact when engaging SOS (Sound On Sound). Once the loop has reached a perfect state of mutation, engage Infinite Repeats to stop further degradation, creating an infinite loop while disengaging the loop record head. While in Sound On Sound mode, pressing the ON footswitch results in the entire loop playing in reverse; users can continue recording new audio to layer with the reversed audio.

Armed with full MIDI control of every parameter, plus 300 preset locations, Volante is designed to be the center of sonic expressiveness for MIDI pedalboards. Put it this way: Volante transmits and receives MIDI over 5-pin DIN, USB, and even its EXP (expression) jack. Connecting an expression pedal opens up a whole new level of instantaneous, constant control; set as many knobs as desired for the heel and toe positions of the connected expression pedal and all settings simultaneously morph through the expression pedal’s full range. Remaining, briefly, outside of Volante itself, connecting Strymon’s simultaneously-announced MultiSwitch Plus accessory to Volante’s EXP jack adds additional footswitchable control; select between three presets, remote control of the SPEED switch, remote transport control, or further foot control while in Sound On Sound mode.

Continuing connectivity advancement, a dedicated INST (instrument)/LINE input level switch ensures that Volante can comfortably work with a variety of input sources — switch to INS when using a guitar level input, LINE when using Volante in the effects loop of a guitar amp or driving it with a hot output from a synth or mixer insert. Indeed, the LINE input is also perfect for using Volante as a send effect or insert effect in the studio.

Seriously flexible, then, the pedalboard sonic expressiveness-enhancing Volante really rewards experimentation, yielding rich, hypnotic, and often unpredictable results — albeit always highly musical. Making room for one (or more) in a pedalboard or studio setup surely sounds like a perfect plan!

Strymon is already accepting pre-orders for Volante via the Strymon Store to American Samoa, Canada, Puerto Rico, United States, and United States Minor Outlying Islands for $399.00 USD (plus tax and shipping) or through its growing global network of authorized dealers.

For more in-depth information, including informative video demonstrations, please visit the dedicated Volante webpage.