SAMPLES REVIEW: Ian Boddy Airwaves and...
SAMPLES REVIEW: Ian Boddy Airwaves and Radiophonica - From Ulf Kaiser
British electronic composer and sound designer, Ian Boddy, has until now provided "classic" sample-cds for Kontakt's VSTi-Player. With his latest Products he is moving towards digital-downloads at affordable prices. The name of his Label, "Something Else Music", shows that Ian Boddy acts outside of the "Mainstream". The Sample-Sets concentrate on one theme, all libraries are provided in 24-Bit-Wav-Format, that are accompanied by "simple" patches for the NI Kontakt-2-Sampler. The Libraries are relatively big (with 500-600 Megs) but are very affordable.
The Title and Theme of this Library is referenced from the "BBC Radiophonic Workshop", who between 1958-1998 produced futuristic soundscapes for science-fiction radio series and the legendary "Dr. Who" television series. In regards to this "Retrosound", Ian Boddy has produced, with the aid of diverse analogue equipment (and without digital post-production) 200 Samples in 8 Sound-Categories. He has used modern Modular Systems from Analogue Systems, Doepfer, Analogue Solutions, but also Classics like the Roland System 100M, the Mini Moog and the EMS VCS3. There are no Multi-samples, each Sample stands by itself (alone). That's why there are also 200 Kontakt Presets. The Samples are mostly 30 Seconds in length and have an evolving style or contain a rhythmical structure. Apart from the one-shot section, all samples are looped, which corresponds to their goal of being background Sounds. Because there is only one sample per Patch, the User can work consciously with drastic transpositions/pitching and obtain dramatic changes of the sound in result. In using an lfo-modulated, self-oscillating filter, three octaves deeper there spawns a dangerous deep-see atmosphere, but two octaves upwards you hear the tweeting of an alien bird. But also in their generic form, these samples are in no case "normal" analogue musician's food. The difference (to other libraries) can be heard especially at sounds that contain modulations in the audible part of the audio spectrum. The first two sound categories 'Atmospheres' and 'Drones' have a certain harmonic style and can be put to good use in Drum'n'Bass, Dubstep, Grime and Ambient music. The Samples from the 'Noise, 'Nasty' and 'Oscillations' sections, especially those from the 'Weird' Section are very noise-esque and are useful as effect sounds. When they are strongly filtered, these can also be used in a musical context. And that’s surely the intention of this library: to motivate the user to experiment with the sounds that he develops.
This Library is somewhat the Opposite to Radiophonica. Fragmentary Recordings of a WorldReceiverRadio were treated with different plugins to form new and interesting sounds. This Library only features 100 sounds but is almost as big as Radiophonica because Stereo samples are used. Airwaves has 5 sections: Atmospheres, Backgrounds, Noises, Signals and Voices. The Samples are more noisy and more atonal than the synth sounds from Radiophonica. Even the Atmospheric Sounds are difficult to integrate into a harmonic context. These Sounds are better to be used as effects and for spherical backgrounds. The Sounds of the Signals Category resemble those of radio transmissions and Morse codes. Their rhythmic taste is useful for integration into Mini Sequences and Click Beats. The Voices are also special. Here, Voice Bits were put through diverse effects. The voice itself is often no more perceivable. With the method of down-pitching the voice, interesting Horror Sounds and Monster Voices are easily obtainable.
Ian Boddy provides interesting and inspiring samples that form a sound base just waiting for further sound manipulation through the user. In view of the fair prices, these 2 libraries are very tempting offers.
GOOD: Interesting Sounds & Great Value
The great thing...
The great thing about the world of audio production is the number of niche areas available for the budding enthusiast to make their own. And we're not just talking about the latest emergent techno genre to have surfaced dazed and blinking from clubland.
Sound design is often the unsung hero of audio production, and differs significantly from other audio fields in that it doesn't really exist for its own benefit. Instead it partners with other media to add the rich and immersive experience we take for granted in films, television, games and otherwise baffling contemporary art installations. Creating those mood-enhancing aural stimulus is a real skill, and one that - if successful - can often go overlooked.
Sample libraries are core to the sound designer's arsenal, and while many may prefer to hit the streets with their field recorder, sometimes it's easier to just accept when someone has already done the job perfectly well, particularly for those hard to find sounds and atmospheres.
One such capable individual is Ian Boddy, who's current company Something Else Music is the latest venture in over a decade of industry-leading output. Boddy's extensive experience and portfolio (including patches and sound design for LinPlug, Zero-G, Camel Audio, library work for DeWolfe, and his own ambient label DiN) commands him significant respect, and the first two Waveforms releases serve to reinforce that.
The Waveforms sets are only available in download format, which means the libraries can be offered at very competitive prices from many of the leading online sample stores. The samples themselves are provided as 24 Bit WAVs, with the average bundle clocking in at a weighty 500-600Mb (anyone else feeling nostalgic for those innocent days of dial-up connections and download managers?). As you'd expect, Native Instruments Kontakt 2 patches are also provided for each sample, along with audition programs for each sound in a single category.
Radiophonica is of the two Waveforms libraries, offering a comprehensive selection of drones, bleeps, pings and sweeps recorded directly from analogue hardware synthesisers. No DSPs here... This is a purely analogue offering using the sort of modular systems once housed deep within the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. So expect plenty of slightly retro Dr Who-esque fayre, bolstered by a few of the more eerie, industrial sounds you'd expect to find soundtracking exploration of the Nostromo.
The eeriness continues with Airwaves, the second, occasionally unsettling Waveforms title. For this pack, Boddy has cranked up a rather powerful radio transceiver and recorded the odd sounds found between tunings. There are strange garbled voices on the edge of recognition, interference patterns, static drones and hidden morse code signals, recorded in mono before being dragged through some pretty brutal plug-in chains for some serious stereo weirdness. Think Silent Hill meets Event Horizon and you're not far off.
There's no denying this is a niche product, but what it does, it does very well. Boddy has recognised the need for very specific sample libraries, and few are as well-equipped to deliver as he is.
For anyone working on a project (games, films, the aforementioned edgy video installations) requiring an other-worldly, unsettling ambience, the Waveforms downloads are pretty much essential. Especially when you consider the price. If however you're just looking for a new set of FX to tart up your next Garageband masterpiece, this probably isn't the purchase for you...
This new download library from celebrated...
This new download library from celebrated electronic sound-designer Ian Boddy is one of his new Waveforms series, and features about 100 24-bit audio loops of between 10 and 50 seconds in length, weighing in at 550MB of content in total. All the loops come from courtesy of the exotic sounding Yaesu FT757GX HF and Yaesu FT757AT, but before any analogue-synth completists break out in a cold sweat, these aren’t obscure keyboards – they’re the two parts of a high quality radio transceiver which Boddy and his mate Paul Stokes have tuned and mangled to create a series of evolving soundscapes.
Given the provenance of the audio and Boddy’s penchant for the unorthodox, it should come as no surprise that many of the sounds feel as though they might just as well have emerged from some kind of hallucinating droid, or the abandoned communications console of a space-age Marie Celeste. Distorted interference signals wash in and out of various flavours of radio hash, while drifting side-bands, hints of spoken announcements and smatterings of Morse code briefly approach the surface before being sucked back in. Perhaps it’s because these kinds of sounds have so often accompanied scenes of technical isolation that such a strong mood of detachment and even despair prevails most of the time, although not without the odd moment of illumination in the form of purer, higher register tonal drones, suggestive of contemplative higher alien lifeforms at a distance.
So maybe not the first collection you may leap towards for the next Girls Aloud single or indeed anything else destined for a forthcoming Now! compilation, but at the same time very evocative in the right circumstances – darker emo or electronica, perhaps, or retro sci-fi soundtrack work. What’s more, I can’t immediately think of anywhere else you could immediately lay hands on such a range of this kind of material, short of tweaking your own Yaesu (which sounds uncomfortable), so I reckon Airwaves has got to be considered good value in its field. Kontakt 2 patches are provided too, which will simplify mapping and triggering the samples for some users – you get each sample mapped across the whole keyboard with pitch-shifts, as well as “menu” patches with the loops within each of the products five notionally themed folders laid out alongside each other. However, I did feel that there was a lot happening later on in many of these loops which could have been edited out into a series of shorter one-shots for improved usability.
If you like what you hear in Airwaves, then check out Ian Boddy’s other Waveforms titles, which include Drumalogue, a 1000-strong drum one-shots library designed from scratch using analogue synths rather than drum machines, and Radiophonica, a personal tribute to the heyday of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop.
Mike Senior (Sound On Sound Magazine)