THIS THING RULES: Ueberschall Guitar Feedback

Welcome to another installment of This Thing Rules! Today’s track is going to feature a lot of feedback and distortion, because I’m taking a look at Guitar Feedback, a new loop collection from Uebershall. This is my first time getting to check out one of their libraries, so it will also be my first time talking about their own sample player, Elastik. Lets dive in by listening to the demo, “Falling.”

THIS THING RULES: Sonic Zest Ambient Cinematic Guitar 3

Welcome to another installment of This Thing Rules. Today I’m going to be checking back with Sonic Zest. You may remember I reviewed their entire collection of instruments (which I won in a contest) in a previous This Thing Rules. I’ve always really liked their sounds, especially Ambient Cinematic Guitar 1 &2, so when I saw that Volume 3 was coming out, I had to get in touch. Before I dive into the review, take a minute to listen to my demo, “Sacrifice” which was made roughly 80% with just Ambient Cinematic Guitar 3.

THIS THING RULES: uvi Falcon

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! I’ve got an awesome one for you today… UVI’s Falcon. This thing is a beast – one of the biggest pieces of software I’ve ever reviewed for this blog.

I’ve been using UVI software for a long, long time… I think PlugSound Pro was the first VST over $200 that I ever purchased actually, wayyyy back in the day. So when I got to check out their new flagship, I was extremely excited. Before I dive into all the features (well, maybe not all of the features, but as many as I can fit in and still make this a timely review haha), check out this demo, “The Breakthrough,” which I made entirely using Falcon.

This Thing Rules: Particular Sound Aphelion

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules! I’m trying my best to bring them to you more often now… At least 2 a month, and I actually have 4 lined up at the moment. So that should keep me busy (along with everything else keeping me busy lately)!

This time I’m going to be talking about Particular Sound’s Aphelion Cinematic Tool Kit Version 1.5. For those that don’t know, a Cinematic Tool Kit is technically meant for sound design and to add extra sounds to films and things like that. But keeping with the theme of This Thing Rules, I wanted to try to stick to using just Aphelion as much as possible to make my demo track, “Approaching Horizon.” I did use some instruments from other software to nicely build it out into a full song, but I’d say at least 80% of what you’re hearing came from this package.

So what exactly is included in Aphelion? You’re getting a load of sounds for your Kontakt library (468 Presents, 94 Multis, 334 Loops and everything is also available in WAV format, if that’s how you like doing things). 3.71GB in total. It’s a lot. You’re also getting a great little custom made GUI that helps in applying effects and tweaking the sequences created by the loops (which are of course all host tempo-synced).

What did I use in the demo up above? Well aside from some extra stuff like the pianos and bells which came from other sources, I used around a dozen patches. I started the track off with the gloriously dark (although fairly generically named) Multi called “Atmos 004.” This is a menacing sounding cloud of darkness that undulates underneath the entire composition. I then used “Rhythmic Loop 108A” as a main backing beat. A lot of the rhythmic loops included have a killer industrial vibe to them. Loop 108 A and the secondary loop that bring in towards the end of the piece called “Rhythmic Loop 113A” both fit that industrial style. Then comes the true sound design stuff. Again, we’ve got some really basic naming going on here, which is probably my only negative with Aphelion, but without naming names (since they’re so simple anyway), I used quite a lot of one shot hits that are included in the collection. There’s a collection of short, medium and long hits, and I used sounds from each to add to the background of the track, as well as help augment the overall beat. I also used some whooshes, (the ones included are also divided into short, medium and long) and some drone sounds.

Since I’m created a song here for my demo and not scoring and/or adding sound design to a film or existing piece, I didn’t want to use too many sounds, or else it would get kind of cluttered.  That’s to be expected with this kind of package though, since we’re not talking about pianos and basses and strings and stuff like that. Other categories included in Aphelion that I played around with but didn’t include for the demo, are Brams, downrisers and uprisers, and pulses. All of it sounds excellent, but again, it’s all a matter of really hunting around for what you’re looking for, since the categorization leaves a little to be desired.

Along with everything sounding great, you’ve also got the aforementioned GUI. The standout here is the Sequence controller. It’s an extremely quick and easy way to take the sounds you load and turn them into little sequences. The results are all over the place, but can really lead to some amazing stuff. To me, this is the most fun part of Aphelion.

Particular Sound is offering an intro price on Aphelion 1.5 right now for $89. There are plenty of other great demos on their site that you should check out if your’e interested, but act fast, before the price goes up to $119.

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

 

 

http://www.particular-sound.de/wordpress/sample-librarys/aphelion-sfx-library/

 

THIS THING RULES: CL-Projects Hypernova

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules!

In this entry, I’ll be looking at Hypernova, a new polyphonic synthesizer for Kontakt from CL-Projects. This is a little different for me, since it’s straight up synth… Modeled after classics such as the Minimoog, Jupiter 8, Juno 106 and ARP 2600. So expect things to get really synthy when you listen to “Lost In Spaces,” my demo:

Pretty sweet sounds right?! Yea, this thing is pretty wild. The sounds it can get are perfect for all kinds of music from Ambient to House, New Age or even Cinematic stuff. Whatever kind of music you’re making, the instruments fit right in and are sharp, full and beautiful.

Jumping right into the controls page (the top image), you’ll see tons of options for getting the sounds you want. Having all those knobs staring at you right in the beginning could be a little intimidating for a synth novice, so luckily this package comes with 360 total patches (236 are straight insturments and 124 multis). There’s also a great expansion pack called Pulsar Project from SubsonicArtz (whose Omnisphere expansion pack GAIA I’ll be reviewing in a future This Thing Rules segment) which adds 100 more FREE patches… I could be wrong, but I think this could be the first time I’ve seen an expansion pack for a Kontakt instrument… Anything that gets me more inspiring starting points though is awesome in my book.

There are also plenty of effects included in Hypernova. The effects page features pretty much all the options you could want from Reverb & Delay to Distortion and Phaser. Having little preset buttons laid out really lets you quickly try some settings out, before really twisting the knobs up and getting crazy. It’s also got some great ARP settings, which you know I always enjoy.

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So on to the included sounds! Some of what you’re hearing in “Lost In Spaces” are sounds I either created or edited using various patches at starting points. I also used a bunch of the included patches as is to great effect. The arp that kicks in with the beat is a multi called “Black Eagle,” and speaking of the beat, that huge kick drum comes from a patch called “Devil’s Drums.” A fitting name for such a menacing drum kit (something I really didn’t expect to be included at all since this is mainly a synth instrument, but having a few drum kits added in is a nice touch). The big beautiful reverb heavy keys are actually a multi from the Pulsar Project called “3 Stars System.” Another great patch is the awesomely Depeche Mode style bass/key combo of the “Electric Dream” multi. If it seems like I used a lot of multis, that’s because I did. While these sounds all sound great on their own and are hugely customizable, stacking multis really makes Hypernova shine.

Back to creating sounds, there are a ton of options, but as you know, I don’t really dig too heavy into the details of the power-user stuff with these This Thing Rules reviews… These are meant to be more of a basic overview, along with the original track to make sure you get an idea of what you’re getting. But with that said, there is plenty to keep even the most hard-core synth nerd busy. I do wish that this would have been an officially licensed Kontakt instrument so you don’t have to browse through files to get to it, but that’s more of an issue with my own laziness than the software itself (haha).

Hypernova is available now at CL-Projects store for $49.99. That’s a fraction of the cost of some of the “top of the line” competing synth VSTs, and definitely worth a look.

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

THIS THING RULES: Ikarus Ethnicity

Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules!

You guys probably know by now that I love my Omnisphere expansions, and while there’s constantly a new one coming from one one of the big names, it’s always exciting to find one from a company I hadn’t heard from before. So when I found out about Ethnicity, a pack from composer and first-time sound designer Ikarus, I had to check it out.

Ethnicity takes new sound sources (a recent feature of Omnisphere 2)  including all kinds of organic instruments ranging from didgeridoos to duduks, and runs them through the powerful synth engine. There are 123 presets in all that range from striking keyboards and guitars to lush, beautiful pads and soundscapes, as well as some pulsating patches.

In my demo track “Other Voices” I am using nearly a dozen sounds from Ethnicity. I added a drum beat from another program because I wanted to really bring up the tempo of this particular piece, but otherwise, it’s all Ethnicity.

These sounds have a beautiful liveliness and organic feel to them. Everything rattles and hums in a way that makes you feel like someone is playing these instruments for you… Only in a new and exciting way. Everything is set-up perfectly and you can tell that Ikarus put a lot of time into making these sounds sound just right.

In “Other Voices” I started off with the very funky arp “Pick Guitar Arp 2” and the chill “Ambient EPiano” as a bass. From there I built it up with the absolutely gorgeous pad “Nord Ambient,” and the guitar patch “Egit2” (which would have fit in perfectly on any of the guitar led songs on An Unseen Sky. “Egit2” isn’t a 100% realistic guitar, but it has such a great, natural play-ability to it. There’s a bunch of other sounds from Ethnicity being used throughout, but another stand-out pad for me is “Alone in the future,” which I think is so cool sounding I want to build a full song around it sometime soon.

I’d have liked to see some more percussion type sounds from Ikarus (maybe next time), and perhaps some more pre-programmed arp patterns to go with these instruments. But then again, Omnisphere 2’s incredible arpeggiator already opens the door to tons of possibilities in that department. Percussion is really the only area I felt this pack was lacking at all.

Otherwise what we have here is a solid, unique pack of sounds for Omnisphere 2. A lot of times these packs end up being more of the same (not necessarily a bad thing if it’s done well), but in this case, we’re getting a very specific spin on what Omnisphere can do. It’s a great addition and absolutely recommended.

Ikarus Ethnicity requires Omnisphere 2.1.0d or later and is available now at http://ikarusmusic.com/ikarus-spectrasonics-omnisphere-2-signature-soundset-ethnicity  (and at the time of writing there is a 20% off deal going on, so hurry up and get it!)

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

THIS THING RULES: Gahrn Audio Expansion Packs

Sometimes when I do these THIS THING RULES blog posts, the new music software gets sent to me (if you make music software and you’re reading this, get in touch!), and sometimes I have to go out looking for it. Today’s installment is a case of the latter and I’m so glad I found Gahrn Audio and their new expansions packs Symbiosis (for Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere) and Illusions (for Native Instruments’ Massive). I’m always on the look out for new Omnisphere expansions because as many of you know, it is my favorite synth, so to see a company like Gahrn come out and nail it with their first pack is very exciting… And it’s nice to have a reminder to go back and look at Massive again after I hadn’t touched it in a while…

Before getting into the bulk of this write-up, make sure you listen to the new track, “Seeing Is Believing,” made entirely with these two new expansion packs (except for the drum beat that comes in about 45 seconds in).

This track was especially exciting because it was the first non-score piece of music I’ve done in quite a while. I’ve been so busy with promoting the new album (see what I did there… haha), life, and well, scoring films, that I hadn’t made much stand-alone music. I think it came out pretty great. So what’s going on in that music?

The answer is some killer synths, beautiful pads and awesome arps. These packs aren’t huge by any means (80 patches in Symbiosis and 64 patches in Illusions), but what is there is all top notch usable sounds. Like I said, the bulk of what’s here falls under the synths, pads and arps categories of each respective program, although there are other sounds as well like great Impacts & Hits in Symbiosis.

In this particular song, I’m using about five Omnisphere Symbiosis patches and four from Massive Illusions.  Starting with the Omnisphere pack, two of the arps I used called Outrun (which provides that sick funky rhythm that comes in towards the end) and Still Visible sounded great right at loading, but I decided to play around with the arp patterns to get what I got out of them. The main keys in the song are a sound called Finger Painting which provides beautiful, echoing keyboards, and White Air is a very pretty backing synth pad. I really wanted to use some of the Texture patches in this track, but at that point I felt the song was already busy enough. They’re great additions to this package though and will definitely get used in the future.

Over in Massive, the Illusions patches were also perfect fits for this kind of ambient / electronica song. The big echoing synth you hear is called Dyerm, while another synth called All Transparent was incredibly playable and provides a secondary lead for the track. The main bass line is provided by two alternating versions of the End of Line patch with slightly different parameters that I tweaked at different points in the song. Like I said earlier in this write-up, it’s been quite a while since I’ve touched Massive, but I think I’m going to have to start digging in again because not only do I have these great new sounds for it, but it’s just a really cool program with lots of great content.

So overall as you can see, I really liked what Gahrn Audio has come up with in their first packs, and their inspiration led the way to this awesome new track. I’d love to see a new pack from them that takes advantage of some of Omnisphere 2’s new features, and I’d love to see some more keyboard sounds and maybe some percussion. But for what they are, these are great packs and definitely highly recommended.

Each of these packs are available now in Gahrn Audio’s website store priced very competitively at $23 for Symbiosis and $20 for Illusions. There are also FREE demos available of each pack, as well as more demo tracks and a full walk through of the Omnisphere pack.

Gahrn Audio is run by fellow composer and sound designer Claus Gahrn, so it’s no surprise that he knows what other composers could use. Hopefully he makes some more packs in the future. I’ll definitely be watching for them.

David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.

THIS THING RULES: u-He Hive PREVIEW

This is something that hopefully will be a rarity for me, but welcome to a mini-preview edition of THIS THING RULES!

As you know, in THIS THING RULES I review a new piece of software and post a brand new piece of original music that I composed either exclusively with or heavily featuring that software. Well I have a brand new entry written about the excellent new synth Hive from u-He, the makers of the amazing Zebra2.

Unfortunately, my computer died. Dead. I am computerless. And the piece of music I made, while backed up and safe, can’t be exported until I have a computer  to export it with. I should hopefully have the computer back this week, but since I planned on this review and track being posted last week already, I decided to post this special preview, because a song from my recently released album An Unseen Sky also features a whole bunch of Hive on it.

The song is called “Into The Black” and was actually the last song I made for the album. There are 4 instruments in the song that come from Hive, and it will give you a pretty cool idea of what this amazing synth sounds like in a track. Check out the song above, and check out the album, An Unseen Sky at: https://www.bydavidrosen.com/albums/unseen-sky

As soon as I’m back up and running, I’ll post the full THIS THING RULES segment with my review of u-He Hive and a track that is made up almost exclusively of Hive sounds. And if you’re a composer, make sure to check out u-He.com for a public beta of Hive that is available to try now!

– David

THIS STUFF RULES: My Favorites Movies & Music of 2014

I usually post these lists on Facebook, but I figured… Why not make a blog post about it? Without any big build up, here are my favorite Movies & Music of 2014, with a little commentary on each.

MOVIES

  1. Birdman – One of the most original, beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time. Even funnier than I expected, and weirder too. It’s been a while since Charlie Kaufman made a movie (2008 I believe), and this is the closest thing I’ve seen since then. It makes your brain work overtime. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the day I saw it. Also, seeing Edward Norton really going for it for the first time in years was just awesome.
  2. Nightcrawler – An amazing movie filled with excellent performances. Jake Gyllenhaal deserves Best Actor for this. Such a dark, crazy movie and an uncompromising vision.
  3. Gone Girl – David Fincher’s best movie since Zodiac. One of his best ever really. Also happens to be the first time in years that I saw a movie in the theater twice!
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel – I’m one of the only people (let alone Wes Anderson fan) who didn’t like Moonrise Kingdom, so I was so happy that this ended up being my favorite film of his since The Darjeeling Limited (which I know most people DIDN’T really like). This is definitely up there with his best films though. Ralph Fiennes’ performance is an absolute classic.
  5. Edge Of Tomorrow – Probably the best action / sci-fi movie I’ve seen in years, ruined by a bad title that apparently made people not see it. Everyone should see it though. It’s great.
  6. Whiplash – An excellent, dark, small film that centers around music and has one of the best performances of the year from JK Simmons.
  7. Obvious Child – A perfect little comedy. Jenny Slate rules. See it.
  8. The Badadook – The best horror movie I’ve seen in forever. I can’t stand most horror movies because it’s usually just a bunch of loud noises and jump scares with the same old recycled story. This one SOUNDS like it’s going to be that based on the synopsis, but it’s about much more, and the scares come from a much more real place. One of the rare times when hype didn’t kill a movie.
  9. Foxcatcher – I honestly walked out of the theater thinking I didn’t like much about it other than the performances (seriously great all around but Mark Ruffalo steals the show here). But the movie stayed with me and I didn’t stop thinking about it for days and the more I think about it, the more I love everything about it. It also may be my favorite score of the year.
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy & The Lego Movie (TIE) – I made these a tie because they’re both super mainstream blockbusters, and they both happened to be awesome. So many of the big blockbusters disappointed me this year (ESPECIALLY Godzilla), so to see some major movies really nail it was great.

Honorable Mentions: Wild, Chef, They Came Together, Exodus:Gods & Kings, The Equalizer, Fading Gigilo, Noah, Dawn of the Planet Of the Apes, Interstellar, The Interview

Didn’t See Yet But I’ll Probably Like: Inherent Vice, Boyhood, Big Eyes, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year… Plenty More.

MUSIC

  1. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams – Most of you know how much I love Ryan Adams and this is one of his most consistent albums ever. Not his best, but a lot of really perfect, great songs. And I love the 80s light rock influence here.
  2. Damien Rice – My Favorite Faded Fantasy – I finally got to see Damien Rice this year which was an amazing experience, and some of these new songs (after an 8 year hiatus) stand as some of his best.
  3. The War On Drugs – Lost in The Dream – I love this freaking album. And I joked on Facebook that it sounds like what I’d sound like if I tried to form a band. Well what I’d want to sound like anyway haha.
  4. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence – People hate her, but I look at it like a movie. I don’t judge a film based on the credibility of the filmmakers, same goes for her music. Plus “West Coast” is an absolutely killer song.
  5. Jack White – Lazeretto – Jack White rules. I don’t love this album… It’s a little too jammy, but some of the tracks are absolutely awesome and even at his worst, he’s still better than most other artists.
  6. Michael Jackson – XScape – Much better than I could have ever imagined. Some truly great songs on here, and getting to hear the demos on the bonus disc was really cool too.
  7. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes – Another great Bruce Springsteen album.
  8. St Vincet – St Vincent – A really unique, awesome album. I don’t know if other people have said this before, but this reminds me of what Nine Inch Nails would sound like if it was made by a girl. Not a girl imitating Nine Inch Nails… Because this is much lighter and less angry… But a girl creating a very female album, that shares a lot in common with what a Nine Inch Nails album is. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but I love it haha.
  9. The Raveonettes – Pe’Ahi – Some of The Raveonettes albums take time to grow on me. This is one of them. I don’t love it yet. but I just know that I will.
  10. Tom Petty – Hypnotic Eye – I haven’t even finished listening to the album yet, but it’s got some classic Tom Petty songs on it.

Honorable Mention: Jason Isbell – Southeastern was my REAL Number 1 favorite album of 2014, but it actually came out in 2013, I just never heard of him until now. Same goes for The Book of Mormon Soundtrack which came out a while ago, but I refused to listen to until I got to see the show live. Now that I’ve seen it, I’ve been listening to the album and love it.

I was going to also do lists for TV and Video Games, but I found myself really reaching to even remember what I had seen and played haha. So I think we might as well just leave it at this

Every year people say that there were no good movies and there’s no good music. I think that’s bullshit.  There’s a lot of great stuff out there, you just gotta know where to look…

– David

PS. I’m aware that the numbers in the lists are crossed out. It’s a weird bug I’ll have to look into haha.

THIS THING RULES: Sonic Zest Collection

Welcome to another edition of THIS THING RULES. You may remember from my “The Past & The Future” Blog Post that I placed 8th in a composing contest sponsored by music software news site rekkerd.org. My prize was the entire collection of Sonic Zest Instruments for Native Instruments’ Kontakt. I’ve spent the last couple weeks playing with some of the instruments, and so far, I am extremely happy with my prize.

This collection features 22 instruments that are all beautifully sampled. The kinds of sounds that will easily find their way into my music. First of all, the list of included instruments:

  • Acoustic Autumn
  • Cinematic Soundscape
  • Ambient Cinematic Guitar 2
  • Chinese Dragon Bells
  • Glass Hand Drums
  • Indonesian Thunder Drum
  • Vietnamese Lithophone
  • African Tube Percussion
  • Himalayan Water Bowl
  • Tenor Recorder
  • The Glass Absolute Quintet
  • eBow Mandolin
  • Acoustic eBow
  • Maple Mandolin
  • Percussive Guitar
  • Apricot Duduk
  • Moroccan Drums
  • Typewriter of Prince George
  • Bronze Percussion
  • Paper Percussion
  • Lighter Percussion

My reviews here aren’t meant to always be an entirely comprehensive look at all the features and sounds included in any given product, so I didn’t fully explore all of these sounds, In the piece of music I made above, I used Acoustic E-Bow, Acoustic Autumn, Moroccan Drums, Ambient Cinematic Guitar 1, Ambient Cinematic Guitar 2, The Typewriter of Prince George and Cinematic Soundscape. As you can hear, the music is full and lush and of a top shelf quality. When considering that most of these go for $16 right now (or the complete collection at an amazing $125), the sound quality is actually kind of surprising. Everything is also wonderfully playable and natural.

The Moroccan Drums are the first thing that will probably grab your attention in this track. They’re so easy to play and come up with a rhythmic background. The Acoustic eBow creates a gorgeous bed for the various guitar melodies that I then brought in. I obviously really love the guitars that Sonic Zest has sampled here, and use almost all of them in this one piece.  To bring up the rhythm at the end, I used the Typewriter of Prince George which has some great clacking key type sounds that work great when mixed in with the traditional percussion sounds.

Sonic Zest has created a great collection of instruments here. At $125, it’s a ridiculous steal. Get it. You won’t be sorry.

UPDATE: I’m glad I posted this in time for Black Friday, because this collection is available THIS WEEK ONLY for the insanely low price of $89. Seriously. If you make music and use Kontakt (which if you do make music, you probably have Kontakt), get this. You’ll love it.

 

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