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Cities and Memory launch Sounding Nature Project – explore the sounds of nature with almost 500 sounds and 250 contributing artists — November 26, 2018

Cities and Memory launch Sounding Nature Project – explore the sounds of nature with almost 500 sounds and 250 contributing artists

After months of work, Cities and Memory launch their biggest ever global sound project, Sounding Nature.

The project uses artistic responses to sound to reflect on the damage being done to our natural world by human-generated sounds such as shipping, logging, drilling and even everyday traffic.

There’s a global sound map of nature sounds, as well as a bespoke player that allows you to explore the sounds by category, from wild birds to natural phenomena. 

From Chile to Japan and from South Africa to Iceland, the project covers incredible sounds like: 

  • Animals from all over the world including hyenasbaboonsbatssealions and howler monkeys;
  • Natural phenomena including cracking glaciers, crunching salt flats, bubbling geysers and volcanic activity;
  • Incredible sonic environments from jungles and savannah to swamps, cliff edges and desert.
  • More than 50 bird recordings including fish eagles, whooper swans, cranes, herons and nightingales;
  • 50 sounds of water, from roaring ocean waves to underwater shrimp recordings. 

I’m delighted to have contributed to the project, especially as one of my submissions has been selected for the highlights album embedded at the top of the post.  Thunder in Tanat Valley and Hurricane Harvey were re-imagined specifically for this project whereas Botany Bay – Breaking Waves (Our Lady is Also the Moon) recorded with Kim Reuger and Midnight on a Volcanic Island (Eye of the Storm) were submitted previously.

The Tanat Valley is a stunningly beautiful part of Wales, unspoilt by development.  In the middle of a storm it can be a lonely and desolate place and my submission tries to capture some of the feelings and emotions inspired by the landscape and sound recording.  I’ve kept a large part of the original recording and used Orb Composer (Hexachords) to create orchestration parts for the British Drama Toolkit (Spitfire Audio) and processed these with a number of effects – RP Verb 2 (Rob Papen); Blackhole, H949 Dual Harmoniser, H3000 Factory, Ultrachannel (Eventide) and Type A (AudioThing).

If you’re feeling inspired to take part. either to submit to a future project or submit your own recordings, full details of how to get involved can be found on the contact page of the Cities and Memory website.

Review of ‘Find the Ways’ album by Allred & Broderick on Erased Tapes — November 25, 2018

Review of ‘Find the Ways’ album by Allred & Broderick on Erased Tapes

I really like the stripped back arrangements of the songs – violin and bass accompanied by vocals that create a deep and captivating sound that holds your interest with sad stories and often a lamenting feel. 

It’s a sound somewhere between folk and bluegrass and there’s a hint of classical at times too. The stripped back feel and arrangements really highlight the quality of instrumentation and vocals. 

Living on A Wire

Violin and bass to open, there’s a sparse arrangement accompanied by beautiful harmonised vocals. It’s a folk / bluegrass type of sound with a slow groove. 

The Wise One

Violin has a kind of urgency creating a tension. Another sparse arrangement of violin and bass with vocals telling the story with a kind of call and response feel at times. 

Two Otters

Violin and bass create an uplifting and optimistic feel with a change to a more reflective / contemplative sound returning to the more optimistic feel to end. 

Hey Stranger

Slow violin and bass create a tension and slow groove accompanied by more spoken vocals. It has a kind of lamenting feel, a story full of sorrow. 

Four Aspens

An instrumental track, another slow groove from bass and violin, it has an edge of sorrow with an increasing urgency building and releasing tension. 

The Ways

An acapella track with great harmonies and an excellent ethos and message. 

Hesitation

Atmospheric opening with violin and ghostly vocals leading into spoken vocals. It’s a kind of introduction into the next song. 

I’m not Crazy

Almost a drone type of opening from violin accompanied by vocals. The song has a kind of Celtic feel with a reflective quality to the vocals.  Sparse violin lead is subtle and works really well. 

Ode to Angelica

Slow violin to open accompanied by bass, it’s a kind of lamenting sound with a build of tension to a release with a spoken name at the end. 

Robert, Please

Walking Bassline to open with percussive hits, violin is sparse and accompanies the bass really well. Vocals are somewhere between spoken and sung. 

VERMONA unleashes ultra-versatile generator for voltage curves and more as fourMative CONTOURS module — November 22, 2018

VERMONA unleashes ultra-versatile generator for voltage curves and more as fourMative CONTOURS module

VOGTLAND, GERMANY: electronic sound tools creator VERMONA is proud to announce availability of fourMative CONTOURS — its first ‘envelope’ entry to the ever-expanding Eurorack small-format modular system world without resorting to type, far exceeding the functionality of a traditional envelope generator and typically following the company’s naming scheme for its Eurorack modules to reflect the fact that it delivers up to four single-phase envelopes that can be combined to achieve much more complex voltage-controlled curves.

VERMONA makes no secret of its admiration for the classic ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) envelope generator; indeed, it is well versed in its strengths, having implemented various versions into its desktop devices over the years. Yet the company collectively decided that its first Eurorack-compatible envelope generator should not resort to type, instead rising to the challenge of realising a unique and flexible concept without compromises being made.

Mission accomplished? Actually, the prototype presented its erstwhile ecstatic creators with an unforeseen headache: how to name a module which was planned as an envelope generator but ended up exceeding expectations by so far? Fortunately for VERMONA, various proposals were supportively submitted to Twitter in response to a small survey. Settling upon fourMative CONTOURS, the company collectively felt that this does not pin down the module’s function to being that of just another envelope generator, but rather reflected its purpose while typically following VERMONA’s Eurorack module naming scheme.

So what warranted the fourMative CONTOURS name, and what, exactly, does this module do differently? First and foremost, fourMative CONTOURS delivers up to four single-phase envelopes that can be combined to achieve much more complex voltage-controlled curves. Therefore, the module itself features four individual channels (or units in ‘VERMONA-speak’), numbered accordingly on its front facia. Flexibly, each unit can be switched into A (attack), D (decay), or H (hold) MODE — with the attack and decay phases switchable between operating with a LIN (linear) or EXP (exponential) response SHAPE — and can be used individually or in any combination. Those tasty features alone are enough to set fourMative CONTOURS apart from the Eurorack envelope generator pack, putting it in prime position for handling many modulation tasks.

The envelopes themselves are seriously snappy; each unit can run within a TIME range of 0.5 milliseconds through to 30 seconds, switchable between perfectly balanced fast and SLOW speed settings to ensure smooth adjustments, with the former geared towards creating crisp and percussive sounds. Saying that, that’s only half the story here, however, since those fourMative CONTOURS units are each equipped with a CV IN (control voltage input) that not only allows the times to be modulated but also extends them in both directions — down to 25 µs and up to 10,000 seconds, so if a two-hour-long envelope is needed then fourMative CONTOURS can handle it!

Individual units can be looped or combined with other units using simple internal patching connections to create more complex envelopes. Thanks to those extended frequency ranges, fourMative CONTOURS can creatively also function as an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) or even an audio oscillator.

On the face of it, fourMative CONTOURS clearly goes far beyond the capabilities of standard envelope generators, and anyone looking for a versatile modulation source should surely consider giving it a try. The creators themselves are quietly confident that there are many more scenarios where fourMative CONTOURS can be pressed into play, filling in some equally exotic Eurorack small-format modular system blanks, so-to-speak — not just the 24HP/3U rack space the module itself obviously occupies!

Shipping now, fourMative CONTOURS is available to purchase through VERMONA’s growing global network of dealers with an RRP of €399.00 EUR (Europe) and $489.00 USD (USA).

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated fourMative CONTOURS webpage.

elysia turns to metallic meteorites for latest limited-edition 500 Series hardware inspiration — November 21, 2018

elysia turns to metallic meteorites for latest limited-edition 500 Series hardware inspiration

NETTETAL, GERMANY: high-end studio processor manufacturer elysia is delighted to unveil its aptly-named xpressor 500 meteor — a new limited-edition version of its best-selling xpressor 500 compressor that remains the same sonically, but boasts a completely unique appearance reminiscent of metallic meteorites found in the greatest natural science museums all over the world.

The thrilling 3D-structured surface of the special aluminum involved in making the xpressor 500 meteor live up to its name was never meant to be used for front panels of high-grade audio equipment, not least that its pleasing patterns are actually the result of gigantic buzz saws used to cut the massive blocks into big slices.

This rough surface is not exactly easy to work with, however; yet — after many experiments — elysia has managed to create a smooth, anodized panel with all the details reflecting beautifully in changing light. Labeling has been burned into the highly-structured aluminum with a special MOPA laser.

“We are very happy that we could tame this tough material and finally turn it into high-grade faceplates,” says elysia co-founder Dominik Klassen. “It has certainly been a lot of effort, but the result is simply breathtaking.”

The xpressor 500 meteor is strictly limited to 100 modules worldwide and is available for purchase from select elysia dealers.

The xpressor 500 meteor can be seen and heard on elysia’s YouTube channel
Review of Lithopoetics album by Nathan Moody — November 13, 2018

Review of Lithopoetics album by Nathan Moody

Lithopoetics has such a stunning sound, it’s captivating, multi-layered and diverse. It feels alive, like the pulsing of breathing, dynamic sounds with motion and emotion from a superb range of evolving drones, arps, leads and noise type sounds that are layered and arranged superbly.

Carved by Water
Emerging drone to open, an edge of distortion adds a subtle tension. Some excellent overtone / harmonic qualities. A pulsing bass gives momentum and further tension. The arp has an ebb and flow, an almost slow breathing quality. The lead builds a tension with a release to a drone to end.

Sun Kissed Stone
Pulsing bass and atmospheric pad are given momentum by metallic type sounds, forming a melody and adding background sound effects, sometimes edging towards feedback but controlled brilliantly.

Slab
Metallic, looping sound like a ball rolling round a bowl, a bass and harsh noise weave around each other to create a tense soundscape.

Arch
Opens with an arp and background bass sound evolving with rhythmic elements and subtle lead, a harsher edge at times again with excellent control.

Crag
An emerging drone with a demented LFO and looping accordion or bagpipe like sound, a bit-crushed bass adds a great element.

Promontory
Swirling background sound and strong lead to open, the song has pulsing and drone qualities with swirling noise and emerging arp and lead that give a momentum, building to a final release.

Tectonic
Drone bass and pulsing sound to open, a melody evolves with a steady rhythm, almost mechanical feel contrasting against the evolving drone and bass sounds.

Grand Staircase
Emerging drone and pulsing synth sound, distorted background sounds ebb and flow to create an evolving sound with excellent movement, harsh qualities at times.

Uplift
An evolving drone, a subtle bass gains in prominence. It’s a kind of subdued, haunted sound that evolves and grows, the ‘twinkly’ sounds add an excellent contrast.

Hoodoo (Bonus Track)
A great tension from the opening arp and bass, excellent layering of leads creates complex rhythms and there’s an edge of distortion adding to the tension.

Cavern (Bonus Track)
Impact sounds and strong bass create an edgy opening, the layered sound effects and processing create a huge sound and a tense atmosphere.

Review of re:member album by Olafur Arnalds on Mercury KX — November 6, 2018

Review of re:member album by Olafur Arnalds on Mercury KX

This is Olafur’s fourth solo release and its a stunning album, it has a captivating and absorbing sound. It’s very atmospheric and one of those that the more you listen, the more you hear.

There are excellent arrangements from simple to more layered and complex that create beautiful songs that are engrossing and absorbing. It has superb use of dynamics – a contrast between melancholy and optimism; the building and release of tension – and often very subtle background sounds that add an excellent element. What’s really interesting is that the album was recorded using Stratus software, essentially this controls two self-playing algorithm controlled pianos linked to Olafur’s playing.

re:member
Piano lead to open, slowly emerging strings build its reflective qualities. Nice change of feel with a riff, background sound and percussion, drumming gives a more defined momentum and there’s a nice build of tension to a final release.

unfold
An urgency from the opening violins contrasts with a kind of splashy watery background and slow bass strings, there’s subtle movement and superb dynamics. Vocals add a great element.

saman
A piano solo piece, it has reflective qualities and a warm, aged sound like an old memory.

brot
Atmospheric opening from layered strings, it has a kind of pulsing feel that contrasts against the ambience.

inconsist
Another slow atmospheric opening, excellent dynamics. The percussive rhythm has a kind of dubstep feel, adding a brilliant contrast and giving momentum. I love the way the arrangement weaves around the rhythm to a final release.

they sink
Harp type of sound to open with great use of delay, bass strings compliment really well. A superbly atmospheric song.

ypsilon
Evolving atmospheric opening from pad type of sound, the piano adds a tension. Syncopated riff and subtle percussive sounds adds a great element. Nice change in feel to an edgy type of sound with a release to the ambience to end.

partial
String opening builds tension from subtle movement and layering, delayed saturated riff adds excellent tension accompanied by evolving strings to a final release.

momentary
Electric piano to open, a subtle background sound adds a kind of vinyl / analogue tape / saturation feel.

undir
Atmospheric strings to open, emerging percussive rhythm adds a great contrast. The arrangement is superb, a kind of delayed harp type of sound and strings and a background rain sound, a great flow to the song and excellent use of dynamics.

ekki hugsa
Uptempo piano to open, strings almost have a dual purpose adding a percussive, rhythmic effect. A great contrast between the uptempo and ambient parts, the song slowly builds tension to a release.

nyepi
A beautiful song based around piano with harp and strings, it’s a captivating sound.

Review of ‘We Are ILL’ album by ILL on Box Records — November 4, 2018

Review of ‘We Are ILL’ album by ILL on Box Records

An excellent album with a solid punk vibe, We are Ill is a full-on high tempo, high energy romp through the surreal, noisy, psychedelic and at times, weird. It achieves an excellent balance between serious, irreverent and mocking with intensity, distortion and quite a lot of feedback.

ILL Song
Ominous sounding church organ riff, drumming and guitar pick scrapes create an edgy opening with spoken vocals leading into a more uptempo section. A great energy to the song, sounds like a demented fairground ride with increasingly chaotic and edgy vocals. Take your pills, everything will be fine.

Space Dick
Great opening riff and drumming, background sound and vibraphone type sound create an excellent groove with superb energy. The background sounds are like a faulty arcade machine getting more broken by the second. There’s a great anger in the vocals that sound like they’re mocking really corny chat up lines / put downs.

Stuck on a Loop
Dirty distorted bassline accompanied by drumming and distorted riff / distortion effects, it’s an uptempo groove with an edge. Vocals have a great energy with some cool harmonies.

Bears
Distorted riffs and synth create a laid back groove with a brooding quality and great edge of tension. Vocals are kind of surreal and a bit menacing.

Bus Shelter
A kind of heavy metal riff to open accompanied by kick drum, guitar chords and noise kind of counteract this creating a great edge. Drumming gives a solid momentum, vocals have a brilliant don’t give a shit attitude.

I Am the Meat
An oscillating, pulsing feedback type of sound, drumming and choppy distorted chords give a menacing feel. It’s psychedelic at times, noisy and a bit disconcerting. It’s a serious subject treated with a mocking contempt.

Slithering Lizards
Excellent psychedelic vibe with growling bass, distorted organ and delayed pick scrape effects. Great vocal harmonies add an edge of tension. Great development of guitar lead line / riff with a superb change in momentum to a more uptempo feel with a building intensity and energy that releases to a slower jam building tension to a final release.

Power
Distorted bass and pick scrapes to open, brooding drumming creates a laid back groove with distorted riff. Vocals have a simmering anger and tension. There’s excellent background distorted sounds / feedback and great control, the song feels like it’s going to run away but is reigned back in.

Hysteria
A big synth bass type sound to open accompanied by distorted guitar riff given momentum by bass and drumming. Vocals have a great energy again, intense guitar playing maintains the energy.

Review of SP2016 Reverb plugin (VST/AU/AAX) by Eventide — November 1, 2018

Review of SP2016 Reverb plugin (VST/AU/AAX) by Eventide

logo

Introduction
Eventide is proud to announce availability of the SP2016 Reverb plug-in — perfectly recreating a classic collection of reverb algorithms from its history-making SP2016, pro audio’s first rack-mount multi-effects processor.

The new SP2016 Reverb is available as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac and PC typically priced at $249.

For more in-depth information, including a free and fully-functional 30-day trial, please visit the dedicated SP2016 Reverb webpage.

For fascinating historical context, check out Eventide’s legacy SP2016 webpage.

Background
The original SP2016 introduced the concept of ‘plug-ins’ to a perplexed pro audio world way back in 1982! Revered for its signature reverbs by mix and recording engineers like Mick Guzauski, Roy Hendrickson, George Massenburg, Dave Pensado, and Allen Sides, to name but a notable few, the SP2016 can be heard on countless hit records, from Madonna to Mariah Carey and Adele to Emimen.

“The classic Eventide SP2016 has always been my go-to reverb,” says legendary mix engineer Dave Pensado. “It has the unique ability to make vocals, instruments, and drums sit perfectly in a mix. The new SP2016 plug-in now gives us all access to this incredible reverb, and no one is happier about this than me!”

Precisely modelling every aspect of those hardware units was neither quick nor easy, but today the must-have sonic beauty bestowed by these reverb classics can be applied to anything — in-the-box or live.

Features:
• Three distinct reverb types, each available in two versions: Vintage and Modern. The Modern algorithms are brighter, more diffused, and use higher bit resolution.
• Room: Basic no-nonsense, no-frills ambient ‘room.’ The extreme pre-delay range makes it possible to use this effect for reverberant doubling and single echoes.
• Stereo Room: Recreates the ambience of a large concert hall, with very clear, natural reverberation.
• Hi-Density Plate: Plate reverb with dual pickups simulating the effect of a big, heavy plate allowing users to make vocals, guitars, and percussive instruments appear much bigger and brighter than they actually are.
• Unique Position control allows users to take their listeners from the back of the room all the way to the stage while retaining all of their other settings.
• Control the structure of the reverb by fine-tuning the controls — including PREDELAY, DECAY, POSITION, and DIFFUSION. The EQ section allows for simple high and low filtering of the reverb with adjustable filter ranges. The low filter can be used to cut or boost at the specified frequency.
• Boasts a variety of artist presets including some by Dave Pensado, Joe Chiccarelli, Richard Devine, Sasha, George Massenberg, The Butcher Bros., Buda &Grandz, Erin Tonkon, and more.

In-depth Review
SP2016-300dpi
The first thing you notice when loading the plug-in is that the interface has the look of an analogue effects unit. It’s a simple and easy to use interface with menu controls at the top, a large red led display and controls split into three sections – level controls on the left, parameter controls in the middle and EQ settings on the right.

The LED display shows values for the various parameters as well as the chosen algorithm that you select by clicking the program button that displays a drop-down list. There’s also a bypass button to the left of the display.

algo_select

The levels section has controls for input and output levels (-inf to +10dB); peak meters and limit LEDs that you switch the active source between input and output by using the monitor button; the kill button removes the input and dry signal to the mix so you can hear the tail (reflections).

levels

The parameters section contains controls for mix; predelay (upto 999ms); decay (reverb time); position is the listening position in the room from the front to the rear; diffusion alters the character of the space from flat, hard surfaces (low) to rough, irregular ones (high).

parameters

The EQ section has controls for frequency and gain for both low and high shelving. Low frequency range is 50 – 500Hz in 50Hz increments; low gain is -8dB to +4dB. High frequency range is 1000Hz to 8000Hz in 500Hz increments; high gain is -8dB to 0dB.

EQ

The menu bar has a number of options including the preset library and load/save options. The I/O lock is a handy function to keep current input / output settings when a preset is loaded and the mixlock works in a similar way keeping the same mix setting when a preset is loaded.

menu

Conclusions
I’m a massive fan of Eventide reverbs, I’ve previously reviewed MangledVerb and Blackhole and use them extensively on my tracks, especially Blackhole.

SP2016 Reverb is another stunning reverb. The ease of use and sound quality are superb and I can see that it will be my go to reverb. There are effectively 6 reverb effects and it can do everything from small to massive spaces and is suitable for any instrument. You get the best of both worlds – a faithful recreation of the original unit along with modern touches. It comes with a large range of presets that are suitable for use as they are, can be tailored to your specific requirements or you can just start experimenting and see what happens.

I’ve used multiple instances on the two tracks embedded at the top of this post. The songs were created in MuLab 7 sourcing samples in Loopcloud (Loopmasters) and processing them with Convex (Glitchmachines) as well as SP2016 Reverb and Ultrachannel. The songs were mastered using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio) and Elevate (Newfangled Audio).