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miércoles, 14 de mayo de 2008

a little quality time with Scriptorium, Soniccouture's


Okay, I've spent a little quality time with Scriptorium, Soniccouture's new product which I mentioned a couple days ago. As promised, here's a more sophisticated set of comments. In no particular order:

1. Tutorial videos: The package comes with four tutorial videos. A lot of people might say "poo, whatever" to these, but watch 'em. Soniccouture have forgotten more about Kontakt than you'll ever know, and chances are you (like me) never read the manual, and haven't the faintest idea of the massive power of the scripting engine. The "Shredder" one, in particular, is enlightening. I kind of passed this script by in my initial browse, to my detriment. This is probably the coolest script of the bunch, with one exception which I'll get to.

2. Manual: There's a brief explanation as to how to use scripts, and more specifically these scripts with Kontact 2/3. Then there's a thorough explanation of what each included script does. Unlike most piles of samples, the use of which is fairly obvious, I've found that you generally have to read the manual for any Soniccouture product, because they have a tendency to stick cool little bits in that you wouldn't otherwise be aware of. Doubly so for this, because some of the scripts are rather opaque on first examination. (This is due in no small part to the fact that the UI of each script is limited by what Kontakt can provide.)

3. Samples: The included samples, meant to demonstrate the scripts, could actually have been called "Abstrakt Vol. 2" without irony. If you have the Abstrakt Vol. 1 set, you have a good idea of what you're gonna get here. A nice helping of largely usable synth stuff.

4. The Scripts: In all candor, there are some things included that I can say for certain I'll never use. There is a script for just intonation which (like all JI stuff) gives me an instant headache, and makes me want to go out and punch children. By the same token, there are a couple scripts which, while workmanlike, are extremely useful for just thickening up things. Unison Z and Analog Oscillators in particular are very nice.

I haven't had a lot of time to devote specifically to this the last couple days, and I'm not in the business of writing reviews; you'll have to wait a bit for CM/FM/EM to get down to brass tacks on the sort of minutia you'd expect from a proper review, but I'll just say that, if you get this based upon my recommendation alone, do not pass by the two Mobile scripts, "Mobile" and "Mobile Drums." These take a little bit of setting up, but they are an unique take on algorithmic composition, with very little input required once you set up an initial state.

Here is an MP3 of a quick little test. The drums are done entirely with the Mobile Drums script. My input, from the sequencer, is one single whole note, and the script is doing the rest, driving the Macro Kit from Konkrete 2. The bass is the Blunted Upright Bass from Abstrakt Bass, with the Unison Z thickening script, and the spacey shit in the background is the "Controller Wobbler - Baobab" set from the included samples.

I won't go in depth as to how Mobile Drums (and Mobile itself, which is similar, but for comping, really) work, because I'm not quite sure I understand it correctly, and I'll just sound stupid if I'm wrong, but you basically set up a pattern for each of six sounds, and you can say whether that pattern will stay still, or drift in time. It can also randomize some features of each note; it is a fairly sophisticated script, and you can clearly hear how it moves things about to give instant interesting patterns where nothing at all existed before.

So, in short, if you're a Kontakt Power User, you'll be incredibly well-served by this set. If you had no idea whatsoever that Kontakt could do this sort of shit, this will extend your understanding of the program quite a bit. I'm continually amazed by (a) how deep that instrument is, and (b) how much more Soniccouture know about it than just about anybody.

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