Heavyocity Evolve Mutations is a sweeping collection of imaginatively processed instruments, stings and loops with a cinematic emphasis.
When Heavyocity first introduced Evolve (reviewed in the December 2008 issue of EM, available online at emusician.com/libraries/quick-pick-heavyocity-evolve-mac-win/), it caught the attention of a broad spectrum of electronic musicians: game scorers, film composers and those just looking for unabashedly processed and imaginative sounds. Its inspirational sound design and programming earned it a 2009 EM Editors' Choice award.
Following its own tough act, Heavyocity teamed up with Native Instruments to deliver Evolve Mutations, a similarly themed library ($119 download from native-instruments.com). The collection comprises 275 instruments drawn from roughly 2 GB of sample data. That's not a gargantuan sound set, but programming matters more than size, and I found more originality here than in collections several times as large.
Make sure you have a fast Internet connection, as it will take a while to download the contents. Installation is easy, and authorization using the Native Instruments Service Center is fast and painless — all you need is the serial number.
I tested the Kontakt 3 or Kontakt Player 3 version of Mutations on my 2.93GHz MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5.8 with 2 GB of RAM. The current version, which is also available on DVD, requires Kontakt 4 or Kontakt Player 4 (a free download) and, on the Mac side, an Intel Mac running OS X 10.5 or later.
Mutations divides its content into four main areas: Rhythmic Suites, Stings and Transitions, Percussive Kits, and Tonality and FX. Rhythmic Suites subdivides into Percussive and Tonal loops. These are menus of tempo-synched loops whose additive effect creates larger-than-life, dramatic underscoring. But, you can scale down the effect by playing just a handful of loops. Loops found in the menus are also provided as individual instruments. That lets you adjust the overall pitch by playing different keys and lets you add individual hits, which are mapped to keys above the loops.
Finding something fresh, different and useful in these menus is as easy as randomly selecting a handful of keys. If you stagger notes by some increment of the rhythm, you'll get countless permutations of the original patterns (see Web Clip 1). These include simple rhythms and complex, syncopated passages that are sometimes played on traditional drum-and-percussion instruments, but more often on objects such as trash cans and sources of mysterious origin. Most are processed before recording or run through the generous supply of unusual effects provided by Kontakt.
The tonal elements of the Rhythmic Suites also serve several purposes. In menu form, they combine to create powerful rhythmic motifs. As single loops, they are more easily adapted to different keys and chord changes, which you combine to build rhythmic, pulsing chords. What makes these rhythmic loops stand out among myriad collections of loops is Heavyocity's use of space; most other collections I've heard rely on unrelenting streams of eighth- and 16th-notes. Mutations' batch dovetails more gracefully.
STING LIKE A BEE
At their most effective, Stings are startling, attention-grabbing sounds. Mutations has these in good supply, including metallic, largely inharmonic sweeps of sound; more tonal, ambient washes; and saturated, snarling billows of tone (see Web Clip 2). There's something here to suit almost any underscoring need, and the effects — which include bit reduction; distortion; low-, high- and bandpass filters; reverb and delay — provide plenty of latitude for your own sonic stamp.
In the Tonal and FX folders, you'll find sounds as diverse as intriguingly warped and distorted guitars and electric pianos, and shofar, the traditional ram's horn instrument played during Jewish holidays. One of my favorites is Dangerous Harmonics, guitar chimes with a tempo-synched rhythmic tail whose attack becomes more emphatic with the mod wheel (see Web Clip 3).
Pads and FX holds rafts of tonal and unabashedly atonal sounds, at turns smooth and inviting or abrasive and edgy. It's worth mentioning that among this surfeit of sound, every patch proffers an ADSR envelope generator coupled to amplitude for further sound shaping.
Mutations is a terrific companion library to Evolve. Once again, Heavyocity has pulled out the stops to deliver a palette of evocative tools for any modern electronic composer's canvas. Mutations will surely find its way into film scores, and it gets my highest recommendation.
Overall rating (1 through 5): 5