Tobias James’s Reviews

  • A beguiling and intriguing instrument of textural exploration!

    Any one of the 3 main parts of this could be an excellent instrument on it's own! But combined they create something really beguiling and intriguing!

    The Cello goes from rich and atmospheric to percussive and punchy, with the three different playing techniques provided, and the speed setting is really cool! I don't know how it works, but I'm impressed! Then there's the true percussion, set out in a 'simple', elegant sequencer, with an array of unusual culinary samples, at once industrial and yet somehow warm and intimate. Just how intimate you want to get with a kitchen knife is debatable, but somehow the rhythmic chopping, sharpening, and so on is strangely comforting, like the lulling rhythm of a train. Or something like that. Then you've got granular synthesis! This really adds to the 'texture' of the sound I thought, giving an organic unpredictability or evolution to the sonic pallet, again it's super cool! Anyway, lastly there's a 'noise' slider, which can be quite interesting if just the right amount is used, again adding to the texture, to build up an atmospheric susurration and really get lost 'in the weeds'.

    Finally there's the overall look and aesthetic, and I must say it's beautiful! It looks so tactile, you just want to twiddle those knobs and feel the chipped paint beneath your fingers! There's something pleasing about that worn, "relic'd" appearance, as though it really is a physical collection of well loved, well used gear. There's a sense of a cherished workhorse that someone's kept by their side for years, and you want to have a go for yourself! Anyway, aesthetics aside, it's all laid out very sensibly and all more or less intuitively. The 'patch cables', though entirely cosmetic, are a really clever way of showing the relationship between the different modules, and fit so naturally with the rest of the aesthetic.

    I will admit that it took me a little while to get my head around everything, because there is quite a bit going on, but the explanation video made everything clear, and I'm really enjoying experimenting with this thing.

    All in all a truly impressive and inspiring instrument, and a joy to explore!

    In The Weeds02 June 2022
  • A wonderfully characterful, mysterious sounding synth!

    Even from just a quick play with each of the presets you can tell how versatile this instrument is! There are so many things to tweak! This does admittedly make the GUI a little overwhelming initially, but it's all fairly well labelled and documented, and really you just need to dive in and start experimenting. I look forward to doing some more of that, and discovering more sounds for myself, because it's very enjoyable to play, with a really inspiring, cinematic grandeur to it.
    The 'bag-pipeness' (bagpipeosity?) isn't immediately evident in many of the presets, again showing it's versatility, but it gives a real character and backbone to the instrument.
    Brilliant, and I should think inspiring both to the musicians and composers, as well as the instrument makers among us.

    29 Bagpipes II06 May 2022
  • A lovely breathy little instrument

    I really love the 'breathy' quality to this super simple, super cool instrument! To me there's an almost vintage or retro feel, like a barrel organ or something. Not surprising I suppose, it being sampled from such a simple physical instrument. It captures a really specific sound.

    The idea of making a very simple, accessible instrument to help people get started is awesome! And it really showcases the way that something with limited playability can be extended through sampling and turned into a fully fledged, very playable instrument.

    I would love to see a more fleshed out version though, including a GUI with tone control (just to tame that breathynes, if needed) and maybe a bit of splosh and chorus to play around with.

    Sure it's a little cheesy, but in the best way!

    The Omni Master-Key01 April 2022
  • A really unusual Piano sound!

    Review is for the Decent Sampler version. (After 08/03/22 update, but DS version may not have been updated. Having said that, I didn't notice any noise, but my earphones aren't very good!)

    This has an intriguing, almost guitar-like sound to my ear, as if the muting emphasises the percussive qualities of the piano. It's quite beguiling!

    It seems to have been sampled fairly thoroughly, with velocity layers for piano, mezzo-forte, mezzo-forte pedal (sort of mezzo-piano maybe? I'm not sure! It might be set up differently in the other sampler formats?) and forte. And of course there are releases triggers.

    In Decent Sampler there isn't much GUI to speak of, just a reverb knob front and centre. I'd have liked to see a few more options, as appear to be available in the Kontact/Ableton versions, but I understand that implementing some things is as yet difficult if not impossible in DS.

    All in all a very cool instrument, that does one thing really well!

    Palm Muted Upright08 April 2022
  • Visions of the depths

    A wonderfully atmospheric, ghostly sound, which really does conjure up visions of the depths. It's haunting, unsettling, tense, claustrophobic, and darkly mysterious! All the things you'd want to create subaquatic soundscapes, or possibly envision the depths of space, or the abyssal plains of the mind. It very much does what it says on the tin, simply and elegantly.

    I found it inspiring, especially for washing (no pun intended) pads of beautifully eerie ambience, with the ship sounds, horn, and siren dialled in to give subtle discordance and a subliminal sense of suspense and rising tension. I fear the the Kraken wakes, or worse, Dread Cthulhu stirs in his slumber!

    The GUI is quite busy, with all those rivets, but I do really like it! I would perhaps have liked to see the siren and horn dropped down a little and given the same 'backplate' treatment as the other controls, but it's a small quibble (and one I should have mentioned when we talked about it during development! Also gosh, just noticed I got a mention, thanks! Was a pleasure to talk it through with you.) Anyway, I really like the use of the hatch wheels and dials as controls, it's a nice touch that adds to the narrative of the instrument.

    Overall easy to navigate, and a pleasure to explore!

    Submarine16 June 2022