Big Fish Audio's first two Ambient Skyline titles received very positive SOS reviews in the July 2011 and May 2013 issues respectively. Now we have the third slice of the series, and a very substantial slice is it too. Available as a downloadable product, the WAV and Apple Loop bundles both run to about 7GB and, although all the downloads are compressed, unless your have super-fast Internet access there will be time for a cup of tea before you can put them to use. Incidentally, the WAV/REX/Apple Loops version is a separate purchase from the Kontakt version.
Those familiar with the first two releases will know what to expect here. In short, this is a weighty collection of ultra-chilled melodic loops, soundscapes and rhythmic beds alongside an equally hefty set of one-shots. In addition to the other-worldly soundscapes, instruments include guitars, keyboards, bass, female vocals, pianos, bass flute, shakuhachi, trumpet and a whole range of percussion. As in the previous titles, there is also a small collection of natural sound ambiences — in this case various city and natural world ambiences — if you want to sit your abstract musical musing over some 'real' sound elements.
There is some fabulous material amongst this massive collection. For example, the ambient guitar, while melodic, is played in a minimalist style and the collection includes some wonderful reversed guitar samples. As with the guitar samples, the keyboard samples could almost be used in isolation (although most sample library license terms don't permit this) and can certainly create the core of a mood or atmosphere onto which you can layer just a touch of something else to complete the soundscape.
If you want a down-at-heel jazz vibe, the collection of short trumpet one-shots are spot-on; moody, soulful and beautifully atmospheric. Equally, if you need something chilled-out for a meditation scene in a martial arts movie, then the shakuhachi phrases will give you plenty to get your teeth into. Or perhaps some rather anguished (almost desolate) female vocals? There are some excellent choices here also. Aside from the various melodic phrases, the library also includes a good crop of extended atmosphere/soundscape samples. These include some quite interesting bass soundscapes in different keys that are surprisingly effective.
For me, the only downside to Ambient Skyline 3 is a minor frustration with the organisation of the WAV files. The samples are arranged rather too thoroughly into nested sets of folders and finding what you want can have you folder-hopping rather too much. This is, however, a minor quibble and easy enough to solve if it really bothers you. In all other regards, this is a fabulous collection of ambient samples and, if you are a busy media composer looking for some additional cinematic ammunition, Ambient Skyline 3 represents excellent value for money. John Walden