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Review of Spacecraft Granular Synth in AU/VST formats by Delta-V Audio (part of the Tracktion Presents series) — November 16, 2019

Review of Spacecraft Granular Synth in AU/VST formats by Delta-V Audio (part of the Tracktion Presents series)

Introduction

Tracktion Corporation is delighted to announce the latest addition to their ‘Tracktion Present’ program, Mark Watt’s (Delta-V Audio) SpaceCraft Granular Synth.

The SpaceCraft granular synth has been a huge success on iOS since its launch a year ago. Now, in collaboration with Tracktion, the latest version is available as a plugin in for Mac and Windows with new desktop-only capabilities.

The ‘Tracktion Presents’ initiative has been designed to assist talented independent developers to introduce their products to a wider market. Tracktion is able to take care of much of the background infrastructure and offer invaluable support from their engineering team, giving designers plenty of time to develop innovative and creative products.

Spacecraft is available from the Tracktion website typically priced at $99.  A 30 day trial is also available.

Background

SpaceCraft is well known for providing instant gratification and inspiring creative flow. Two parallel granular engines provide grain frequency/length control, sample position LFO, stereo reverb/filter and pitch/ring-modulation. The innovative grain pitch sequencer, MIDI / MPE and live sampling capability open up further depths of performance and expression.
 
The focused GUI encourages a creative, interactive experience. With carefully chosen components presented in a single page layout, the user can quickly dive into sound design and exploration without the need for time-consuming configuration of parameters and mappings, it’s all there in front of you.
 
The desktop version of SpaceCraft offers new (desktop-only) capabilities including: –

  • Drag & Drop sample directly into GUI
  • Enhanced, higher fidelity granular engine DSP
  • Up to x8 the number of grains (CPU dependent)
  • Up to 16 minutes sample duration (RAM dependent) 

Mark has continued to develop the iOS version constantly since its launch last year with significant free updates, and the desktop plugin will be no different.

In-Depth Review

I really like the interface, it is clearly laid out with all the performance controls on screen with settings accessed using the cog in the top left corner. The visual and touch control aspects of Spacecraft port across very well to VST/AU versions, it’s easy to load a preset and start experimenting.

The screen is divided into two halves vertically with identical controls for the top and bottom sections that are colour coded.

There are global controls for the number of grains, sample duration, grain engine sample interpolation, grain envelope shape plus other settings. On my aging laptop, I stuck to the default number of grains (16) because it struggled to cope with increasing this setting.

Loading your own samples is easy, you simply import them then load them into the slot with the corresponding colour coded load button.

The top waveform display lets you choose the sample range.

Other controls have an XY grid for controlling certain parameters. The wave display on the right lets you explore the sample and control playback volume with fine / coarse tuning and stereo phase adjustment.

On the left hand side you have the grain control with the ability to adjust frequency and grain length. This can be free or sync and you can also adjust the grain attack.

The LFO gives you control over the speed and movement and there a number of different waveforms.

The filter reverb gives you control over the amount of reverb and a low to high pass filter. You can also adjust the size and damping.

The sequencer has controls for envelope, scale, multi/single and MPC pitch or grain.

The pitch / ring mod can be free or scale and has controls to adjust fine pitch, coarse pitch and ring mod.

Conclusions

I really like how Spacecraft just encourages you to load samples, have a play and see what happens.

It can handle any sounds that you throw at it, creating anything from evolving ambient soundscapes, melodies and harmonies to glitchy, harsh noise. It’s especially suited to live performance or using automation resulting in unique sounds with superb movement, especially when you explore the sample in real-time.

I’ve used it extensively on the album embedded at the top of the post, specifically tracks 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. I’ve used it to create the background for excerpts from a William S Burroughs lecture on the cut up method. I’ve adjusted parameters live to give subtle and sometimes more unpredictable changes to the sound.

Review of ‘You are the Sky’ album by Weeed on Halfshell Records — November 8, 2019

Review of ‘You are the Sky’ album by Weeed on Halfshell Records

This is a superb album, it’s steeped in prog rock traditions of the 70s with elements of Kraut, experimental and a hint of surf guitar for good measure.

It’s a superb tight knit sound with excellent lead and solos backed by solid drumming, bass, superb vocals and the occasional synth and background sounds for good measure. Superb changes of feel with some unusual time signatures and changes thrown in for good measure.

Opening
A slow evolving atmospheric opening from deep, shaking bass sounds, synth and ethereal vocal type sound. The guitar lead is given momentum by solid drumming and bassline. Superb laid back jam quality to the song with nice change to a more uptempo feel with a final release.

I See You
A solid uptempo prog rock groove from riff, drumming and bass. The vocals sit quite low in the mix and have an ethereal quality to them.

Where Did You Go?
An urgency to the opening from drumming, bass and strummed chords building to a superb prog rock groove with vocals. Really nice changes in feel between uptempo and more laid back parts of the song with a percussive break and guitar effects building a final crescendo to end.

Open Door
Synth riff and vocoder vocals to open are given momentum by a bassline. Sporadic guitar lead and background sounds create a woozy, trippy atmosphere.

Caramelized
Evolving opening with drone and slow guitar lead building to a more defined rhythm propelled by bass and drumming. Vocals are excellent, creating a kind of call and response feel. It’s an excellent vibe with a great jam quality, excellent solos and great changes in feel. Harmonica is an excellent element.

You are the Sky
Vocals weave around a guitar lead with drumming building and strummed chords giving a more defined momentum. It’s another solid groove with superb changes of feel and a kind of surf guitar feel at times before a change to a more uptempo groove with slow down effect to a half time groove with solo building the tempo again to a final release.