Piano Attack

Contact: Soundlabel, soundlabel.com; U.S. distribution by Big Fish Audio, bigfishaudio.comFormat: 1 DVD-ROM with Kontakt 2/EXS-24 libraries, REX filesPrice: $279.95 (ReFill format, $229.95)

This isn’t John Cage “prepared piano,” but rather, reminds me conceptually of the sample CD that was every possible permutation of sound you could derive from an automobile, including hitting it with a sledgehammer. This does pretty much the same thing for piano. Format-wise, you get 210 EXS24 patches, 274 Kontakt 2 patches, 411 Logic Channel Strip presets, “BPM” rhythmic patches, and 157 REX files. I tested it with Kontakt 2; the programming is excellent, which bodes well for the EXS24 version.

Cute concept, but is it useable? If you’re doing Southern rock, probably not. But for anything else, you get truly original textures and beats. This is not a standard piano sample library; strings are plucked, brushed, threatened, struck, thwacked, and mated with alien beings. The results range from otherworldly (as in “heaven”) to otherworldly (as in “hell”). There are some ace percussion sounds, multis, atmospheric drones, semi-melodic sounds, fx, whack basses, and much more. The “copy protection” is reward-based: When you register, you can download free content (currently 21 REX phrases).

Piano Attack isn’t cheap, but obviously, a ton of work went into creating it. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of this library — and if you appreciate “esoteric-yet-highly useful,” you will too.