This is the first release from Lapjockey, a group of musicians and producers which includes our very own Pro Tools Notes columnist Simon Price. Presented in Refill format, Flatpack contains a large selection of patches and sample sets for each of the modules in Reason v2 and, though largely electronic in character, it steers clear of catering for any single, specific style or genre. That said, there is a strong bias towards the analogue synth sounds of yesteryear, with 30 classic drum kits for Redrum including Roland's TR808 and TR909 drum machines and the Korg ER1. Elsewhere, there are Moog, Korg MS20, Oberheim Expander and Casio VL Tone patches (amongst others) for the NN19 sampler. These samples are endowed with plenty of vintage character, although, in the case of some of the Casio sounds, their vintage might not be to everyone's taste.
For the superior NNXT sampler there are 'classic keys' sample sets of a different variety, with a selection of Rhodes, Wurlitzer, melodica and organ patches. Of these, the Rhodes comes out on top, offering a realistic and highly usable sound without retreading any of the ground covered by the Rhodes patches in the Reason Factory Soundbank. Five versions of the Rhodes are included: two tremolo variants, a bright version, a sustained version and the 'plain Jane' original. Although the tremolo's speed is consistent all the way across the keyboard, there's no way to alter it, but the sensible inclusion of an uneffected version allows you to add your own effects.
The Wurlitzer is, to my ears, much less successful. While the Rhodes' lower notes are pleasingly warm and fuzzy and its upper register is suitably bell-like, the Wurlitzer sounds like a Clavinet at the bottom end and like a harp at the top, giving the impression of a synthesised imitation of the real deal.
There's a nice Lorenzo accordion patch and a couple of brash melodicas which aim to accurately replicate the original instrument's tuning instabilities, although, in my opinion, these stray too far towards reality! There are some pleasantly full and fruity organ sounds for the NNXT too, although my favourite organ presets in the Refill are for the Malström module.
In general, Flatpack's Malström patches make excellent use of the module's two oscillators and oscillator presets, giving a good demonstration of its capabilities. Helpfully, two template Songs included with the Refill demonstrate how Malström's modulators, filters and shaper can be used to create radical effects on external sources (Flatpack features five such effects patches) and a third shows how the Subtractor's electronic drum sounds can be triggered from Redrum using Gate signals. There are around 100 patches each for both Subtractor and Malström, ranging from basses, synths and leads to some evolving loops and pads. There are some interesting pads for NNXT too, and the folder labelled Pads (One Finger Chord) does exactly what it says on the tin, for that instant ambient house breakdown. The audio files used to create these soundscapes are included unpacked in a separate folder in WAV format.
Among more than 200 REX-format loops there are a number of acoustic percussion samples which provide some contrast to the electro slant of the Refill's other rhythmic content, though here too you'll find plenty of bleeping retro quirkiness. All in all, Flatpack impresses by virtue of the sheer quantity of material on offer and the creativity that has clearly gone into its assembly. If you can't find at least something here to tickle your imagination, then you'll have a hard time finding it anywhere else, and for £50 in the UK you could do a lot worse. David Greeves
$79. Add $6.35 per order for p&p.