Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Emerging company Inlet Audio bill themselves as creators of “artist‑driven sample library products”. Here they add an intriguing new effort to their (thus far) string‑dominated catalogue: Clarinet Drama Textures, built in collaboration with Chicago‑based clarinetist and composer, Brandon C Stanley. The instrument (compatible with the full version of Kontakt 6 and beyond) allows users to pick any two clarinet textures from a library of 15 available textures, blending and shaping them with onboard tools to create pads, evolving soundscapes, and all manner of musical textures. All of the samples are created from a clarinet section playing various textures and extended techniques, making it a fun aleatoric instrument providing a new timbral palette for composers.
It’s in this delay setting where the fastest musical results in this instrument can be crafted, from subtle repetitions to immense eternal textures as the feedback is turned up.
Diving straight in, I loaded a ‘play and sing’ texture into the A pane on the left side of the instrument, and Growl textures in the B side on the right. From there, each side has a Main and FX tab to individually modify the loaded sounds. The latter allows the user to mix in one of five onboard reverbs, from a small home patch to a moody plate, standard chamber, hall, and cathedral settings. It also provides a separate and character‑filled delay module, moving from warm diffusion and vintage delays through a sparkling bright modern delay. It’s in this delay setting where the fastest musical results in this instrument can be crafted, from subtle repetitions to immense eternal textures as the feedback is turned up.
While combining different sounds in the instrument is intuitive, sometimes taking the same sound and doubling it with different effects yields truly organic and seamless textures. For instance, I took the Growls patch — a moody, slightly edgy sample with lots of repeated key noise — and doubled it, using a hall reverb with an extended tape delay on the A side, and a smaller reverb with a slight diffusion delay on the B side. Rising from near silence to a forte dynamic with the mod wheel and then back down again, the result began as expected. Yet after a few seconds the sound doubled up on itself in the delay, and resulted in an extended esoteric piece of music that would not sound out of place in a Pierre Schaffer or early Steve Reich tape piece. Automation in the FX area became a must, though a dedicated panic button would have been a welcome addition. The front page of each side includes a simple envelope control, a standard filter (cutoff, resonance and bandwidth), and controls for panning, tuning and volume.
Clarinet Drama Textures certainly captures the unique warm characteristics of the clarinet, resulting in a highly original product capable of lending fresh timbral direction to your sound design. It is an intriguing creation, worth trying and at a very friendly price.