Ueberschall’s Electro ID, for their Elastik virtual instrument platform, contains 100 construction kits of German underground electro music, verging on techno and hardcore. The typical kit includes drum loops, bass, synth, various effects, and they’re smokin’: This is the real deal. But you can’t really consider the sounds without the instrument, so let’s do go there. (By the way, Ueberschall has multiple products that use the Elastik engine — not just Electro ID.)
THE ELASTIK BAND
You install the program first (VST, RTAS, AU), then copy over the nearly 1GB library of content. After telling Elastik where to find the content, it needs to be authorized. This is handled by a simple challenge/response system that can be done on a different computer if you want.
Referring to the screenshot, going from top to bottom there’s a browser to choose the various kits and to its right, a tempo indicator (stretching is handled automatically). This includes a sync-to-tempo option, but this option must be invoked whenever you change tempo on the host. As a result, the Elastik engine can’t follow host tempo changes automatically.
The field below selects a particular sample from the kit (or choose it by hitting a key), and here you can stretch, choose a different transposition algorithm, reverse direction, assign plug-in outputs, and set a snap point for the “loop eye” (more on this later). Furthermore, there’s resonant filtering (hipass, lowpass, bandpass, notch) with filter slopes up to 72dB/octave — this is a seriously versatile and fun filter unit.
APPLYING THE ELASTIK ENGINE
The interface threw me for a loop at first, because it doesn’t follow other paradigms: It seems built from the ground up for loop-oriented applications. For example, the “loop eye” is a different way of representing a waveform, and has loop start and end points that can park at various points around the eye (or be locked, so that moving one moves the other). Changing these alters the loop length seamlessly, and it’s cool that you can alter these to offset or shorten the loop compared to other loops.
You can use the two virtual keyboards toward the bottom to trigger samples in the various construction kits, but more importantly, you can pick samples from the lower keyboard from any of the construction kits, and drag them to the upper keyboard to create your own presets. As each construction kit includes loops of varying lengths and functions, and each sample can have its own loop eye, filter, etc. settings, you can create some pretty customized presets. As you can assign up to eight parameters to MIDI control, and the same sliders in different presets can have different controllers, Elastik ends up being highly playable. In fact, I’d say that if you just use Electro ID as a loop library, you’re missing out on what makes it cool: This baby was born for real-time tweaking.
There’s more to the story. For example, adjustable attack and release times are handy for tailoring fades (in and out), you can bounce one preset over to the “secondary” keyboard in slices, there are mapping tools, you can save original or modified loops as audio files, and the Elastik engine is pretty CPU efficient if you need multiple instances. There’s more, too . . . but that’s enough for now.
I found Elastik confusing at first, and that kept me from getting deeper into it. My mistake; once I realized this was an instrument more than a loop library, everything fell into place and I started having a major blast. If you want an instant electro construction kit where you can do a whole lot more than with simple static loops, consider making the stretch to get Elastik.