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Bunker Samples Bunker Strings Vol 1 & 2

Bunker Samples

Rating: **** 4/5 Stars

Most people would prefer not to spend time in a bomb shelter, but for violist/composer Nikolaj Moeller Nielsen a Copenhagen WWII bunker came to be a home from home. Originally built as a civilian bomb shelter in 1945, it was later converted into a recording studio and rented to Mr Nielsen, who spent two years happily recording string samples there. The musician fondly recalls: “I loved that place so much... it was my creative heaven, so I decided to name my company Bunker Samples after it, since it’s where it all began.”

With Bunker Strings Nielsen’s aim is not to pursue ultimate realism, but to explore the possibilities of real performances within the virtual domain. Its two volumes feature unusual articulations played by Nielsen himself on a collection of violins and violas, along with cellos and double basses played by friends. Each sample was multitracked nine times and mixed down to create a virtual ensemble of variable size controlled by a ‘density’ fader — there’s also an option to use round‑robin samples as an extra layer, thus doubling the band’s virtual player numbers. Orchestral purists would throw up their hands in horror, but I liked the resulting full and flexible sound.

Bunker Strings Vol 1 consists mainly of interesting variations on the tremolo theme. Instead of the standard rapid back‑and‑forth bowing, the players perform ‘pizzicato tremolo’: this shower of repeated plucked notes produces an excited, bubbling murmuration, a cheerful texture which would make a great, optimistic curtain‑raiser for an epic sci‑fi movie. ‘Drumstick tremolos’ have a more intense, skittering flavour, while ‘ricochet tremolos’ up the ante with repeated agitated bow bounces, a superbly threatening effect when played as cluster chords. For rhythmic work, the dynamic ‘drumstick shorts’ range from light spiccato brushes to heavy col legno‑style hits.

Volume 2 kicks off with two pad‑friendly textures. The gently mobile ‘sul tasto pulses’ sound soft and serene, while ‘tremolo bursts normale’ is more stately and dramatic. The latter’s sul ponticello variant introduces nervy horror‑film edginess. The ‘plectrum tremolo’ style can evoke the sound of massed Mediterranean mandolins or a swarm of locusts, depending on how you play it; single‑note plectrum plucks represent a return to normality, with unpitched hand‑damped plectrum strums adding some welcome rock attitude. Also included are bonus synth patches which include some exquisite pads.

I enjoyed these samples and found them to be an inspiring alternative to conventional string collections...

All articulations are separately performed by violins, violas, cellos and basses, with well‑programmed ensemble patches providing playable full‑range options throughout. I enjoyed these samples and found them to be an inspiring alternative to conventional string collections — it’s good to know something positive can come out of a bunker! The two volumes (3.72GB and 4.91GB respectively) both require the full version of Kontakt 5.6.6 or later and will not work in the free Kontakt Player.

Vol 1 $59, Vol 2 $79, both $109.

Vol 1 $59, Vol 2 $79, both $109.