Virtual Guitarist, Groove Agent drums, and now Broomstick Bass (BB for short): Ladies and gentlemen, meet the “robot power trio.” The BB plug-in (VST/AU/RTAS, Mac OS X/Win XP, shipped on DVD-ROM) lives to churn out bass lines in various styles. Choose one of 33 sounds from acoustic, electric, keyboard, or pedal bass, hit a keyboard key or chord to trigger, and away you go. Or more precisely, away it goes.
There are expressive articulation options, and even a souped-up metronome that can play an accompanying drum loop. The number of patterns is fairly limited (the pop category has the most with 25; many have between 4 and 8), although Bornemark promises more (and free!) patterns in the future. Interestingly, with Cubase SX/Nuendo, you can record the patterns in a MIDI track and edit them. However, you can’t load your own patterns into BB.
Surprise: You can actually do something with the sound, thanks to processing (EQ, pitch shifter, compressor, chorus, and overdrive), glide, release, and so on. BB could use more overdrive types; the other processors are fine. Furthermore, in “manual” mode, BB is a cool little bass instrument thanks to the well-recorded (and often velocity-switched) samples.
Okay, the software works — does the concept? Yes and no. I started off thinking “cheesy preset one-finger home organ patterns,” but a little tweaking and processing brought the patterns to life. Once that was squared away, some cool song ideas indeed started bubbling up from my subconscious. Some advice: Ignore the preset and instrument labels — experiment, because some really interesting chemistry happens when you use the “wrong” pattern with the “wrong” bass.
Bornemark doesn’t oversell BB; they say it’s there to provide inspiration and happily, it does. Just don’t expect to replace The Real Thing.