If a title like ‘13’ didn’t give it away, then the subtitle of ‘Horror Loops & Sound Design’ means that it’s perhaps no great surprise that Big Fish Audio’s latest loop library is intended to scare. However, before you get to audition the sounds themselves, there is an additional scary (well, scary if you don’t have a decent broadband connection) prospect of an 8.5GB download. That said, this represents a pretty significant bang per buck given the library price and the fact that it contains nearly 1300 samples all presented in a 24-bit WAV format.
There are no construction kits here. Instead, what you get are (surprise, surprise) 13 folders, each containing different types of sounds; atmospheres, drones, distortions, pads, swells, music box, vocals, piano, phrases, drums, fractured audio, exorcism session recordings and wobble mutations. While most readers might have a good idea of what to expect from the first few of these, I’m confident in saying that the last three are not something that I’ve regularly encountered while reviewing sample libraries for SOS over the years!
Let’s start with the more ‘conventional’ material. With over 300 loops in the atmospheres, drones and distortions folders, many of them well into the 45 seconds and longer category, if you wanted some sound beds suitable for a contemporary horror film score (and especially effective if you layer them), then the odds are you will find something here. Add some volume automation — or even something from the ‘swells’ folder — to build the tension so you can hit the frame where the gore arrives, and your audience will be suitably freaked.
If you want creepy, disturbing or more ‘killer toy’, then dip into the vocals, pads or music box folders. Indeed, I could quite happily (maybe that’s the wrong word?) have coped with more of the music box, it just conjured up images of toy cupboards full of dolls with knives (I hope that’s not just me?). The exorcism sessions were, perhaps, a bit of an anti-climax given the title; a further collection of suitably creepy sound beds, although there are a small number of satanic vocal samples included. On the up side, however, I really liked the fractured audio folder. This is an eclectic mixture of weird, wonderful and generally disturbing. Combined with the wobble mutation (yep, sort of wobble bass gone wrong) and drum (processed and suitably dark) folders, both of which have a ‘modern’ and more musical flavour to them, they would certainly give that horror score a contemporary (urban?) edge.
13 does the more conventional horror soundscape content in abundance but, equally, the less conventional elements would enable a composer to create very modern-sounding, but still dark, disturbing and downright scary cues. The only downside is that the lack of sampler-ready patches means you have to do a little more of the groundwork yourself. That said, at this price, 13 delivers a lot of scares for a very modest outlay. John Walden