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RIOT ACT

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Slow Death by Vise ($79.95, audio CD; $99.95, AIFF/WAVCD-ROM) offers 68 tracks of deliberately twisted, rude, distorted,and unusual sound effects. The samples range in length from lessthan one second to more than two minutes. The collection owes itsrough character to the lo-fi microphones and speakers used in therecording and to unconventional recording techniques.

The producers gathered plastic karaoke mics, old pagingmicrophones, and piezo transducers and connected them todeliberately distorted and damaged speakers, car speakers, and SonyWalkman headphones. The producers then attacked those devices witha variety of implements and recorded the resulting signals. Inaddition, a Shure SM81 condenser microphone, which was pointed atthe source from a foot away, served as an ambient mic. The combinedsignals were then recorded to separate tracks using Digidesign'sSound Designer II. The miked track, the ambient track, oran occasional blend of the two tracks made it to the final mix.Editing and mastering was accomplished with Sound Designerand Pro Tools.

Drop in the Bucket

When I first listened to the CD, I was momentarily taken aback.I thought that something was horribly awry in my studio. It turnsout that the CD's initial sounds are 60 kHz noise bursts followedby a mic being tapped and a patch cord's unplugged end beingtouched. Beware: the documentation warns of drastic variations involume levels from sound to sound.

The effects were created with a diverse selection of items andmethods. A few offerings include a plastic mic recording while onfire, pop cans being crunched, a mic resting against a grindingwheel, and plastic and glass being hammered and crushed. Theproducers also used noises from items they dropped and rolled,including electric motors, a wooden rat trap, a condenser micdragged on concrete, a microphone tapped or blown, a bottle rocketfired through a plastic tube, and a jar dropped in a bucket.

The Drill Bit

Each track offers several takes of a specific sound eventrecorded with different microphone configurations. For instance,track 18, titled “Glass Jar Dropped in a Bucket,”provides six takes: three takes of a condenser mic inside thebucket, which recorded multiple bounces of the jar, and three takesfrom the perspective of an ambient microphone above the bucket.

Track 5, “Attacked by Drills,” offers six metallicgrating sounds that run the gamut from “heavy rumble withmedium-pitched screechy attack and fuzz decay” to“sustained harsh screechy electric motor.” You're intoextreme sounds, you say? Try “Drill Press Penetration,”in which a rotating drill bit is pushed into a mic capsule until ithits the circuitry.

Slow Death by Vise features a large number of metallicsounds. Track 45, “Shaking Metal Box of Metal Parts,”has a dozen sounds. The producers miked the box inside and outside.The shaking rhythm varies, as does the timbre. Recordings ofautomobile tow chains constitute 37 sounds on three tracks. Thechains are dropped as a wad onto a mic and as a pile into a box,and are then gathered from the box.

The CD's sleeve provides an overview of the collection'scontents. Comprehensive documentation is included on the disc inPDF and FileMaker formats. Sounds are listed by track withthe sound title, description, track number, start point, andlength. If you have FileMaker, you have that informationand a card-view library, keywords, and user comments.

Word to the Vise

Riot Act aimed the CD at sound-effects designers working invideo games and Foley for science fiction and horror TV shows andfilms. Unless you need raw, intense soundstage aural events,Slow Death by Vise probably isn't for you. However, if youwork in a genre that requires unusual sounds, it's a resource youmay want to have. Spend the additional $20 for the CD-ROM with WAVand AIFF files. You can download a free demo from Riot Act's Website. Give it a listen.

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 3.5

Riot Act; tel. (708) 222-9842; e-mail feedback@riot-act.com; Web www.riot-act.com