Back in May 2010, SOS ran a review of Zero-G's Dark Skies, giving it a whopping five stars, and the sleeve notes of Epic Horizons boldly claim that it is 'even bigger and better'.There's certainly no denying that it's big in terms of gigabytes. The case contains not one but two DVD discs, with over 5GB of 24-bit AIFF Apple Loop files on one, and Acidised WAV, EXS24, Kontakt and Reason NNXT files on the other. Although the collection uses the now familiar construction kit method of organising its material, it adds on several other large folders of samples that lend themselves to more general use.
The Ambiences Drones and Soundscapes folder contains a subset of 31 folders that have enticing names such as Creepy Textures, Sci-Fi Cinema and, most pleasing of all, Beautiful Dirt. The samples in these folders are all quite long — ranging from 20 seconds to a minute in duration — allowing them time to subtly evolve as they play. Another main folder called Single Hit Sounds is the home to a variety of noises that are relatively short in duration compared to those of Ambiences and Drones. Indeed, the sounds in this batch tend to rise up and then slowly decay rather than evolve. Many of its subfolders specifically use the words 'sweeps' and 'swells' as part of their titles, which fairly accurately describe the nature of the sounds therein.
The Textures folder is home to sounds that are a cross between the ambiences and drones and the single hits. In general, it contains loops that are strong enough to be used on their own, although, of course, using them as part of a large composition is also a possibility. Some are pleasantly mesmeric, as I found out when I had them continuously self-looping in the Windows Media Player while working on this text! Think Brian Eno and you're halfway there. The others are equally hypnotic, but lean towards the 'industrial', and would be most applicable for dark sci-fi cinema work.
Then there are the construction kits, which number 30 in all. Again, science fiction and horror are the genres best served by the kits, which tend towards menacing, out-of-this-world-type material.
Indeed, although the library as a whole is inventive, creative, and full of inspirational sounds, its lack of acoustic instrument sources must be noted as a weakness. As to whether or not Epic Horizons is 'better' than Dark Skies, or any other collection of this kind, it's hard to say, because there are no grooves, riffs or melodies to compare. What's certain, though, is that it presents a veritable smorgasbord of usable and enjoyable sounds, which will no doubt be of great interest to film, TV or gaming sound designers who have to come up with the goods fast and often, and therefore need a substantial library that provides instant solutions while also serving as a source of inspiration. Tom Flint
£89.95 including VAT.