Kontakt shout out

In the last few weeks months my studio has been undergoing some intense evolution, and I will document exactly how at a later date (integrating modular, Cirklon, MOTU AVB etc) But one aspect that is a constant for me (and has been invaluable with writing music, especially composing for film) is Native Instruments Kontakt sample engine, along with the UVI workstation.

Over three feature film scores my Kontakt instrument library has grown to a ridiculous 1.97TB and while I have always appreciated the power of samplers it was only during the recording of the score for One Thousand Ropes that I gained some real insight by witnessing very accomplished performers play music that I had written by being inspired by the virtual instruments (and of course the narrative and emotion of the film)

Sometimes it was like chalk and cheese, hearing music cues that worked in temp form, suddenly feel like a performance rather than a series of notes… other times the difference was less apparent, but that is more a testament to a combination of (a) the power of these deep sampled instruments and (b) that I sometimes do not want or need virtuoso performances…

Part of the physical redesign of my studio has been motivated by the desire to put together a music template. While this might sound like a fairly boring proposition it is actually deeply philosophical as I am essentially assembling my own Chamber Orchestra, except without the restrictions of needing all those warm props (humans) – I am free to virtually seat my 303s alongside the strings, 808/909 etc alongside vibraphone, percussion etc… with outboard readily available via patchbays & routing.

As a musician I have always found new instruments a profound inspiration, whether its something as simple as last week buying a glass slide for guitar and making some small discoveries, or from new modules or whatever… Each new instrument triggers new ideas, and in this respect Kontakt and UVI are like a creative booster providing instant gratification and inspiration when first exploring, but also imprinting the range of sounds of each new instrument for future reference and use…

So I figured I would document my instruments each time I add new Kontakt or UVI instruments… Please appreciate this is not a review – I am not a critic or reviewer. I am just a musician & sound designer building an ad hoc electroacoustic chamber orchestra!



New additions Q4 2019



Sonic Couture THE ATTIC TWO

US$179 – 18GB library with 24 bit 48kHz sampling – NKS + KONTAKT PLAYER COMPATIBLE
Instruments: Mini-Korg 700, Jennings Univox, Suzuki Omnichord, Philips Philicorda, Roland RS202, Korg LP10 Electronic Piano, Hammond Solovox, Godwin String Concert, Roland SH2000, EMS Synthi AKS…. And new in Attic 2: ARP Omni 2, Cheetah MS800, Crumar DP80, Farfisa VIP 345, Moog MinitMoo, Siel Orchestra 2, Solina String Ensemble, Logan Vocalist

Being a bit of a synth/hardware collector it is such a pleasure to play with these rare instruments, most of which I will never own… although there is a Synthi AKS somewhere in the world with my name on it!

There is a deep sense of nostalgia embedded in many of these instruments, which is instantly apparent in the vid below, previewing just a few of the 450+ presets… This aspect is an interesting reflection on the role and development of synths: once a sound or tonality becomes iconic and identifiable, it also becomes of its time/era, which is in such sharp contrast to eg modular for which it is hard to imagine much other than certain over-used techniques becoming time stamped, dated and nostalgia-inducing.

Full disclosure SonicCouture kindly provided an NFR, thank you! #free_noodles
THE ATTIC TWO by Sonic Couture





LEKKO Piano by Felt Instruments

£39 – 6.83GB
Lekko is a beautiful and characterful upright piano, recorded with a thin layer of felt between the hammers & strings, as well as providing designed and processed textural patches… I really love the GUI for this instrument, and playing it via a weighted keyboard is really a lovely evocative and inspiring experience… Respect to the developer for being so responsive to initial feedback, and implementing necessary updates.

LEKKO Piano by Felt Instruments






US$49 – 3GB – 3634 x 24 bit wav samples with patches for Kontakt, EXS-24, Ableton Live Racks & Simpler Patches, TAL-Sampler and Prophet X/XL

This is another synth I have never desired to own, so gaining access to it deep sampled by someone who clearly loves it provides some invaluable insight… As Hugo decribes: “The PPG Wave 2.2 is an iconic and very special sounding synth. The 8 bit wavetables through SSM2044 analog filters give it a unique digital yet warm sound”

BLUE WAVE by Gold Baby






It has been fascinating to see the response to the PianoBook project, initiated by Christian Hansen of Spitfire. His work demystifying the process of sampling an acoustic piano here is really inspiring, as are many of the instruments uploaded and generously shared on the PianoBook site

PianoBook by Christian Hansen and a hoard of enthusiastic samplers!





Sonic Couture MoonKits

And latest addition is SonicCoutures new MOONKITS which I was happy to buy as soon as it was released as my default Kontakt brush drum kit was a SonicCouture freebie from many years ago – 2007 in fact! It was a very natural sounding kit and from my first jams with the new MoonKits they feel similarly ‘real’ while also incorporating the great beat tools/sequencers also found in their epic ElectroAcoustic worldised drum machine…

The first thing I always do when playing with a new Kontakt instrument is turn off the effects. With some presets (especially some synths) the effects can overwhelm the actual patch, and while I appreciate Kontakt developers including room mics, and custom IR verbs I first need to hear the instrument from the musicians perspective – like I am playing it, since that is what I am doing.

The MoonKits sound gorgeous, and to celebrate the release Sonic Couture have released a few free sets of rhythms created with MoonKits, with the challenge to create a one minute track or loop using one or more of the provided Moonkits drum loops…. Have a listen & download here but don’t procrastinate as the deadline is only 3 days away (ends November 10)

MoonKits by Sonic Couture





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