Review: Sample Logic Cinematic Guitars Organic Atmospheres

Virtual instrument for NI Kontakt
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Cinematic Guitars: Organic Atmospheres is a collection of massive, animated, pad-like sounds that can be used to establish the mood of a scene for film or games. The library can be used standalone or as a plugin with Native Instruments Kontakt Player 5 or the full version of Kontakt (version 5.5 or later). The Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) is also supported.

To get the most variety from this instrument, dive into it at the Soundcore level.

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Based on recordings of plucked-string instruments from around the world, Organic Atmospheres provides over 850 patches. The entire library loads into Kontakt’s rack area, and you can scroll through patches or click on the panel to open a built-in browser where sounds are categorized and filtered by their evocative characteristics (Dark–Mysterious, Electronic–Effectual, Mixed Emotions, and so on).

There are no Multis, which makes sense once you examine the eight-oscillator structure of the instrument. The top level is the Preset, which divides into four Soundcores, each built from two oscillators, or Soundsources, each with its own signal path. Each Soundsource is a patch unto itself, guided through a powerful synthesis engine and brilliant scripting, thanks to Sample Logic and Kontakt’s deep architecture. You can swap out Soundsources, changing the Soundcore’s timbre radically. The library also offers an “intelligent” randomization feature to help you create new patches.

Step sequencers and arpeggiators come together in the Step Animator, culled from Sample Logic’s Arpology, providing motion to effects and creating intricate rhythms. The center of every Preset features an x/y vector that shunts between the four Soundcores, and you can choose from a long list of presets, move the virtual joystick manually, or record your moves for self-propelled playback. Each Soundcore feeds independent ADSR filter and amplitude envelope generators, and its own convolution reverb with a choice of 14 impulse responses, among other effects.

At the Preset level, Organic Atmospheres is not an instrument in the conventional sense of the word. There are no lead- or keyboard-type sounds. The Presets are best played as single-note drones and effects.

It is at the Soundcore level that I found the library to be most valuable for my purposes. At that level, Organic Atmospheres reveals its nuance and evocative nature: It is imbued with traces of guitars, kotos, and vocal-sounding motifs that pass across the soundscape. You will find a vast palette of fascinating tones, appropriate for all ranges of underscoring. Be sure to audition the individual Soundcores, and even the single-oscillator sources. Each one is a fully developed patch, and they provide the library with a greater dynamic range and dramatic versatility.

The full Presets, on the other hand, may be better suited to video games and action films. While the eight-oscillator bombast will catch the ear, it tends to obscure the details of the constituent oscillators. And because so much timbral and harmonic motion is baked into the Soundsources, sounds played at the full preset level preclude chordal playing.

It’s always worthwhile to evaluate a sound library for its potential by looking beyond the presets. Approached in this way, as a sumptuous à la carte menu, Cinematic Guitars: Organic Atmospheres brings a wealth of powerful and compelling tools for setting dramatic landscapes.

A rich menu of evocative sounds for underscoring.

Full presets can be sonic overkill for many scoring tasks.


Watch for Marty Cutler’s latest book, The New Electronic Guitarist, in early June.