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Quick Pick: Heavyocity Evolve (Mac/Win)

12/1/2008

Heavyocity provides a vast and inspiring set of instruments targeted at contemporary film- and game-music composers.

Heavyocity provides a vast and inspiring set of instruments targeted at contemporary film- and game-music composers.

Heavyocity Evolve is a sample library that sits comfortably between being a workstation and a massive production kit. Like Zero-G Morphology or Vir2 SyntAX, it eschews generic, hyperrealistic GM-style instruments in favor of surrealistic, atmospheric, distorted, and even hallucinogenic sounds that increasingly form the basis of modern game and film scores.

I installed and tested Evolve on my dual 1.42 GHz Power Mac G4 with 2 GB of RAM under Mac OS X 10.4.11. Though installation is painless, authorization uses Native Instruments (NI) Service Center, which can tax your patience as it scans your drives for installed instruments and checks for Service Center updates. Evolve loads under NI Kontakt Player 2 (KP2). The sound library is about 6 GB and is in NI's NKI format, which means you can load the patches and Multis into NI Kontakt 2 (or later) for more in-depth edits.

THEORY OF EVOLUTION

Evolve patches and Multis differ widely in form and function. Individual patches called Instruments appear under four main categories: Rhythmic Suites, which consist of tempo-synced percussive and pitched loops and arpeggios; Percussive Kits, which are populated with all sorts of drum kit, ethnic, and found percussion; Stings and Transitions; and Tonality and FX. Many patches consist of several Instruments mapped across different note regions, and you also get a few Menu patches, which gather a collection of looped components for layering on a single keymap.

A number of patches reveal the influence of Korg's Wavestation-series synths, which are famous for their undulating, otherworldly pads, and percolating grooves consisting of unusual sound combinations. Evolve's sonic scope takes many of its predecessors' concepts into new territory, however. The majority of its timbres have a contemporary, gritty character, and the KP2 interface provides simplified and more-immediate access to sound and rhythm tools than does the Wavestation (see Web Clip 1).

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Programming and scripting possibilities embedded in Evolve extend from simple filter-modulation features to tempo-synced loop slicing and pattern gating to sophisticated arpeggiation techniques. Many of the rhythmic patches are enhanced with synchronized delay as well as synced-LFO panning and filter modulation. Although the underlying scripting is not user accessible unless you own the full Kontakt 2 sampler, there's plenty of programmability to personalize sounds.

Arpeggios are easily adjusted; a series of horizontal bars lets you control the level of each step to create new accents and rhythmic figures. There are also a number of alternate rhythm-sequence presets and a knob to select different time divisions. Because it's so easy to set up Multis, you can quickly create intricate, layered polyrhythms. You can also quantize MIDI input to ensure that multiple notes start simultaneously and stay synced (see Web Clip 2).

I found inspiring sounds in every Instrument category. The contents of the Drum Like Kit folder, which is found in the Percussive Kits folder, are a hoot and feature kits made from bogus Donald Duck imitations, bicycle horns, and turkey gobbles. Other kits derive from seriously meter-pegged drums, Dumpsters, and body noises. The Stings and Transitions folders manage to support a wide panorama of cinematic themes and emotions with nary a cliché to be found: plenty of beautiful atonal and tonal sweeping pads from electronic sources, guitars, voices, and unidentifiable origins. These all have resonant high- and lowpass filters, reverb and delay knobs, and ADSR controls for amplitude, so wringing even more versatility out of the sounds is easy. My clear favorite is the entire Guitar subfolder; it harbors a potential Bill Nelson album in the making. The subfolder contains instruments that sound like the offspring of guitars, kotos, bells, and a hive of bees, sometimes all at once (see Web Clip 3).

Admittedly, I'm a sucker for sounds that go beyond the pale. Even so, Evolve has set a new standard for imaginative and useful programming. It is clearly not an instrument for emulating traditional electronic and acoustic sounds (although it includes a very nice ambient acoustic piano). Evolve delivers fresh, often indescribable sounds and comprehensive rhythmic and harmonic tools for contemporary electronic film and game music. According to Heavyocity, a free expansion to the Evolve library should be available for download by the time you read this. I can't imagine where the company is going with the next batch of sounds; as it is, playing Evolve continually stokes my creativity. There's no better recommendation than that. Go to the Heavyocity Web site and check it out.


Value (1 through 5): 5
Heavocity
heavyocity.com

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