Litote is a stereo granular audio effects plugin (note it doesn’t work on mono tracks) available as VST and Audio Unit for OS X and Windows in both 32 and 64 bit versions from Inear Display. It costs 39 euros + VAT and a demo version is available to try.
Litote comprises of a combination of granulizers, resonators and diffusion delays. Rather than giving the user control over the settings of these effects, Litote takes a different approach using ‘smart’ randomisation – which means that the likelihood of annoying results is minimised. This means that you can get on and use it straight away. As with many similar effects, the result will vary depending upon the input signal.
The interface has a very clean design comprising of 3 sections. The top section is the config menu which gives reseed options, user guide, access to the presets directory and a crash log; The middle part contains the XY pad, sound trajectory on/off switch, randomisation buttons; The bottom section contains the trajectory controls (when this mode is enabled) and level controls for input, output and mix.
The pad acts as a control and a visualiser. You can click or drag the target circle to a different part of the pad. Each corner corresponds to a different sound engine so the position of the target circle will determine the type of effect produced. The trajectory offers an additional control option and furthermore the X and Y positions of the target circle are available for automation within your host.
At the sides of the pad are buttons to randomise various aspects of the overall sound. The top left button regenerates the whole sound and the atom button below randomises the X and Y speed / range settings for trajectory mode with the on/off button for this feature underneath.
The four buttons on the right side randomise the sound of the four individual engines, each of which is symbolised by an icon representing the corner to which it is attached.
Trajectory mode provides automation with a smaller target travelling inside a defined area coloured green within the pad as shown on the interface image above.
The bottom section enables you to manually set the trajectory controls and the levels section gives control over the input level, output level and mix which is the dry:wet ratio.
In use, it is a very easy effect to start using. As much as I like tweaking effect settings to my requirements, there is something appealing and refreshing about using random settings for effects. I’ve tended to launch Litote, generate a random seed, regenerate the whole sound and then go from there.
Litote produces an interesting and wide range of effects from grain / granular textures, ring modulation type effects, a kind of tremelo, chorus, harmonics/overtones to glitchy delayed artifacts. You can get some very interesting results with drum loops, for example an added percussive layer with rattles and bass drones.
The trajectory mode can give a subtle or more pronounced movement in the sound and the availability of the X and Y positions of the target is a brilliant touch because in the DAW I use – Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II – you can set up an XY pad with physics to control the speed of the ball bouncing around inside the box which then automates movement of the target.
I’ve really enjoyed using Litote, especially with the automation options. As a result I got a bit carried away and created an entire album titled ‘chronikos’ and a longer set of one of the songs which were recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock II and subsequently mastered using Neutron by iZotope in Mulab 7.2 and are both embedded at the top of the post.
The opening track of the album, Anatoli Iliou, has quite a simple arrangement as shown below with manual triggering of playback of the field recording and settings for the grain sampler adjusted during the recording. I’ve used automation of the target within Litote to create subtle movement within the sounds, on other tracks I’ve adjusted the position manually for more dramatic changes in sound. I’ve often used Litote in combination with Incipit, a delay effect also by Inear Display and the two effects work really well together. You can read my review of Incipit here.