EastWest: The Dark Side
First, this virtual instrument isn’t all all that dark; it’s more about power and genre-breakage. Second, there are many ways to do an industrial/lo-fi collection wrong—substituting sludge for distortion, weirdness for musicality, or not realizing there’s a thin line between “dirty” and “useless.” The Dark Side skillfully avoids these traps, yielding a collection of drums, bass, guitar, ethnic, keys, instruments with FX, percussion, and other sounds that are darkly transcendent, yet muscular.
Based on the Play engine, The Dark Side requires a decent computer (32/64-bit, Mac/Windows, at least dual-core). The steam punk GUI incorporates several valuable processing options; many sounds that initially didn’t grab me graduated to first-call with a little filtering and some delay. Overall, the complement of controls is Spartan, yet effective.
You could base entire songs around this library, but the sounds are equally applicable—if not more so—to adding specific sounds to an existing production. Lacking a NIN-type bass? Need drums that vaporize the air around them? Done.
I didn’t know what to expect from this library, but this is more than the title implies: It’s expertly crafted, and never strays from a core musicality.
Contact: EastWest, www.soundsonline.com
Format: Six DVD-ROMs, 37.4GB total content; VST/AU/RTAS/standalone; requires iLok
List price: $395
Sony: White Rabbit Asylum
The door to the vault opens. This is where, as legend has it, a portal bridges to another dimension—maybe good, maybe evil. An eerie, pulsating light shines in the corner . . . a ghost? An angel? Harriet falls to the ground, overcome by the presence of something neither she nor Nick fully understands—yet. The screen fades to black, as the image of a small, pale child appears in the darkness.
“Well, can you score that scene?” “Sure—I just got White Rabbit Asylum!”
And that’s pretty much all you need to know. Whether scoring a special on alien abductions, providing the soundtrack to a theme park’s Halloween ride, or adding truly strange atmospheric elements to scarier-thanaverage chill, with this set, you indeed go down the rabbit hole—and find there’s an asylum at the other end.
In typical Sony fashion, this is about a collection of well-Acidized loops as opposed to construction kits. Files are loosely organized into folders of related sounds (e.g., Dark String Scenes), but you need to spend time auditioning the files to fully explore this library.
White Rabbit Asylum fills a unique role—and yes, you will be able to take the movie-scoring gig presented at the beginning.
Contact: Sony Creative Software, www.sonycreativesoftware.com
Format: Two CD-ROMs with 1.2GB (470 loops) of Acidized WAV files and some one-shots; 24-bit, 44.1kHz
List price: $69.95
Ueberschall: Glam Rock
Glam Rock is a ’70s time machine—think T.Rex, Gary Glitter, Bowie, etc.—arranged into four sections: 19 construction kits with three drums/bass/guitar variations per kit, 18 break parts, 16 intros, and 10 collections of additional rhythm guitar, solo guitar, bass, and organ licks. The loops are deconstructed into individual looped parts (including dry and room drums) that map across a keyboard; this gives the option within a DAW environment to program parts, or play them in real time.
The loops play back via Ueberschall’s Elastik audio engine, which offers pitch/time stretching, per-loop filtering, reverse, stand-alone operation, and other features. While not the only possible workflow, the more I use Elastik, the more I like to combine improvised playing with bouncing loops to audio, which I can then drag around an arrangement.
The playing nails the glam musical genre, but the production quality is bigger and more in tune with today’s musical aesthetics. As a result, individual loops can slide easily into various types of rock music. This is definitely a specialized library—but Glam Rock accomplishes what it sets out to do, and then some.
Contact: Ueberschall, www.ueberschall.com
Format: DVD-ROM, 1.95GB content (1,262 loops and samples); VST/AU/RTAS/standalone
List price: $109.99