Cycling 74 Cycles :03 - Incidental Gesture

Sound designer Ron MacLeod has been hard at work. In less than a year he’s cranked out three volumes of his Cycles series of “audio source libraries” for Cycling ’74: :01 — Sustained Encounters (long evolving textures; reviewed April ’04), :02 — Unnatural Rhythms (mechanical, electronic, found sound loops; reviewed September ’04), and now :03 — Incidental Gesture (“active” sonic textures and melodic meanderings; reviewed, um, here).

Each volume includes two discs: One is a DVD-ROM of the files presented at 44.1 and 48kHz sample rates; in both cases the resolution is 24 bits. At 44.1kHz, there’s 1.6GB of data, at 48kHz, 1.8GB. The other disc is an audio CD for auditioning, or for ripping. DVD file index and CD track index documentation are provided in PDF and Excel spreadsheet formats. Tempo, bar length, and key are indicated where appropriate — although many of the files have none of those attributes. As with the previous two volumes, this one is recorded and edited with exemplary quality. And the amount of material you get makes the $99 price tag a steal.

Five broad sonic categories are included on Incidental Gesture: Horn-based Gestures, Melodic Meanderings, Moody Incidentals, Narrative Expressions, and Rhythmic Beds. The sounds tend toward heavily processed sonic events, unusual electronic sounds, sweeps and glides, eerie textures — in all cases, there’s lots of atmospheric vibe. What you won’t find are “mainstream” drum loops, instrument samples, and so on — this volume focuses on long mood-generating tones, dark background effects, dissonance, and atonal melodic phrases.

Many listeners will automatically think “film score” when they hear Incidental Gesture (check out the demo at the Cycling ’74 site for a taste); but this collection is capable of much more than just movie backgrounds. Use it any time you need to inject unique sonic spice into a production.