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20-07-2016, 20:09


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If you have even the vaguest interest in anything cosmological, you will no doubt be aware that NASA and other international space agencies have been sending probes out into the deepest recesses of our solar system and, with the aid of telescopes as well, have been recording the radio waves emitted by our universe and converting them to audio. The music of the spheres as was once referred to in the middle ages ... or the Sounds Of The Universe ... or SOTU.

It's intriguing and beguiling stuff - long evolving soundscapes that rumble and warble and bleep and phase and swirl, the kind of thing you might expect from an exquisite album of abstract electronica or 'chill out' music. I did contact NASA to license these recordings but they weren't keen. Well... bollocks to them because...

It's all a con, a cunning ruse - there's a race of impish aliens out there who have a machine that generates these sounds which they broadcast around the cosmos to confuse us earthlings ...

And we have laid our hands on it and recreated it for Kontakt 4...

There are resonant low and highpass filters, an 'interference' control, 'cloud width' to expand the stereo image, an ADSR envelope, velocity and balance controls and a comprehensive chain of effects that include chorus, flanger, phase shifter, echo and convolution reverb with custom sound designed impulses to represent the surreal depths of the cosmos. We've taken the unusual step of following one my synth idols, Isao Tomita (冨田勲さん), the Japanese synthmeister and total master of 'space music' by putting the echo AFTER the reverb thus smudging everything beautifully into a wash of sound which could emanate from a grand cathedral on some distant planet in another galaxy.

And by carefully analysing the NASA and other recordings, we have isolated the elements involved and have been able to recreate the 'sounds of the universe' which can be generated at random by clicking on the 'mandaloria scope' centre screen...

There are four elements - one (shown in white) is always a dense 'composite' created through multitracking abstract sounds from HS Towers' synthesizers.com analogue modular system, created using low frequency and pink noise, noise modulated voltage controlled oscillators and filters through ring modulators, the Q130 Clipper/Rectifier, the band and notch reject filters of the Q107 state variable, the Q150 Moog clone transistor ladder filter, Q127 Fixed FIlter Bank and the delightfully quirky 'Sea Devil' VCS3 clone filter...

The trick (and the tricky bit) was to make and blend these sounds to be as 'organic' as possible and not sound synthesised in any way. Thankfully, the 'organic' and living and breathing nature of a true analogue modular lends itself well to this.

The other three elements are simpler (again, created on the Dotcom modular as above) but which are combined in SOTU to create all the elements that go to create the cosmic wash of 'spacescapes' that the NASA and other recordings are famous for. A simple click on the 'mandaloria scope' will generate these with ease - no complex programming ... just a simple click and tweak to taste. Couldn't be simpler.

However, because these elements are selected randomly, there's a chance that the sound and the elements it contains aren't balanced or tuned quite as you'd like them. Which is why there's an EDIT panel bolted on where the elements can be mixed, panned, tuned and also individually filtered with low and highpass filters as well as applying amplitude modulation so that the elements can fade in and out and undulate and crossfade with each other to create even more evolving textures...

It has to be said that this is a 'texture synthesiser' so don't expect funky basses or prog leadlines or smooth pads, wobble basses, techno stuff or the usual fodder. No! This is an instrument for those looking for rich, dense and evocative soundscapes (or 'spacescapes') and whilst it might not be the first choice of instrument for a trite, poppy little chart topper, it'll certainly be a 'go to' synth for those working in film and TV soundtrack work or those creating abstract electronica, 'chill out' music and so forth or anyone wanting to add texture to their music. This truly is impressionistic and space music sound design at its best combined with serendipity and 'what the hell was that?' factor when added to a track.

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Comments for Hollow Sun SOTU KONTAKT:

User comments (1)

  • jojofun jojofun
    20 July 2016 17:48
    • Please reup all the Hollowsun stuff.
      I'm in love with their sound.


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