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Download of the Month: Tobor Experiment Gleetchlab 2.3 (Mac)

June 1, 2008

Gleetchlab 2.3 (Mac)

Gleetchlab (donationware) from Milanese software developer Tobor Experiment is a standalone application created in Cycling '74 Max/MSP. It is designed specifically for glitch music, a 1990s outgrowth of electronica, ambient, and IDM genres. In short, that means taking any kind of source material and subjecting it to a variety of disruptive processes reminiscent of damaged CDs, scratched vinyl records, unintended circuit bending, and other unhappy accidents. Here, you emulate those physical abrasions with looping sample players (Gleetchlab has six) and various DSP effects. You'll find Gleetchlab, along with downloadable audio examples of what Tobor Experiment has in mind, on the company's Web site ( While there, check out the two ambience generators OM Blue and OM Green; they provide nice sonic fodder for Gleetchlab (see Web Clip 1).

The heart of Gleetchlab is its 19-by-17 routing matrix. You start by connecting the active sample-player outputs to effects inputs or any of five stereo output-mixer channels. You can connect any output to any number of inputs, and you can route any module to any other to create complex effects chains. But simple is usually better, because the effects are often extreme, and Gleetchlab is CPU hungry on older PPC Macs.

The sample players loop continuously once you load an audio file, but you have real-time, automatable control of the playback speed and the loop boundaries. You can set the player to randomly change the loop boundaries at specific intervals, which is particularly useful for feeding the more extreme effects. Two of my favorites in that category are Cosmo, a combination granulation, reverb, and spectral delay effect, and Processor, an enigmatic filter-based distortion effect. These, together with random looping, will turn a guitar loop into an ethereal, ambient cloud (see Web Clip 2).

Gleetchlab strictly adheres to the philosophy of accidental music. You cannot save and reload setups, and there is no explicit provision to interface with your DAW, although you can use ancillary software such as Cycling '74 Sound flower for that. Alternatively, you can record Gleetchlab's output in two convenient ways: a built-in recorder saves the audio to disk in AIFF format, and you can record the output back into any of the sample players for reprocessing. With either method, the program captures changes you make to onscreen controls. Whether you use it to generate a whole piece or an ambient background, Gleetchlab is a worthy addition to your DSP arsenal.

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