Antique and old junk shops can be great places to rummage round in, especially the little back street ones run by some eccentric, doddery old bloke in a waistcoat and bow tie. There are loads of them in Britain and our intrepid explorers are never far from one, stumbling across little gems for ‘re-purposing’. And they have found a real belter in the latest. At first, it was thought it was some peculiar radio/TV hybrid … or some old piece of radar equipment. You can imagine our surprise, then, when it was cleaned up, powered up and it started generating bizarre and unusual string and pad sounds coming at us over the decades and reminiscent of the scratchy, crusty soundtracks heard in old black and white movies. It has two layers, BODY and AIR so named because one provides the foundation of the sound while the other provides a lighter component. Each section has three basic sounds which can be tuned, mixed, have vibrato added and shaped and filtered – BODY uses a simple lowpass filter while AIR features a highpass filter to make that section more ‘wispy’.
These then pass through a unique bank of fixed filters with the AGE buttons which impose retro tonalities on the sound from wow/flutter, various fixed formant filters and old vinyl noise. These can be switched in and out as required in any combination.
Finally, the whole thing is rounded off with a convolution reverb that features hall, plate and spring reverbs, each with three size variations.
It’s actually capable of a wide range of old, retro string and pad sounds that have a unique character. The source sounds are already a bit scrapey but these can be enhanced (or degraded) further with the AGE buttons and combining the various sounds from the two layers, each with their own filters, allows surprising flexibility with everything from old film strings to eery cinema organs, interesting vocal-esque textures and it can sound ‘clean’ to cronky, sometimes reminiscent of an old, beaten up Tron with maybe a hint of Novachord – in fact, this could be how the bastard offspring of a Tron and Nova might have sounded had the limited technologies merged.
These are string and pad sounds with a difference – whereas most such sounds are clean and ‘floaty’ or ‘spacious’, mellow, warm, smooth … whatever adjective you’d care to use … these are ‘earthy’ and ‘crusty’, ‘cronky’, ‘wonky’ and wonderfully flawed and will bring a unique character to productions in any number of musical genres.