Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
I was very impressed by Naroth Audio’s Rhythmus — the company’s first release — when reviewing it for the July 2021 issue of SOS. Their latest release is Bloom, described as a cinematic sound engine and built around 500+ sound sources spanning nearly 6GB. These sound sources include guitars, vocals, metals, brass, synths, strings, woodwinds and a range of ambient sounds. The engine lets you combine up to four of these sounds into a preset and, as demonstrated very ably by 250 supplied presets, the results include some seriously good pads, drones, soundscapes, rhythmic pulses and various melodic leads/basses.
While the underlying samples sound very good when auditioned individually, it’s Bloom’s sophisticated sound design engine that lets you create the magic. The ability to blend four sound layers is, of course, not unique to Bloom and you get the usual options for level and pan for each of the four layers. However, you also get some powerful layer and global effects options, individual arpeggiators for each layer, a granular synthesis engine within each layer and the ability to import your own samples or wavetables for use within the engine. For those prepared to dig in, the sample import option is a great option if you want to create something unique and it seems to work very smoothly.
The icing on the sonic cake, though, comes from the modulation system. This is where Bloom takes its name from and it provides a range of ways — manual, automatic or via the step‑sequencer within the arpeggiators — to modulate multiple parameters within the engine. Many of the supplied presets demonstrate the possibilities very well, with the mod wheel used as a macro‑style control to adjust the modulation of multiple parameters in real time. The result is lots of sounds that transform — or ‘bloom’ — in all sorts of interesting ways as you play. You can configure the Bloom options within each individual layer’s Edit page and also via the dedicated Bloom page. The PDF manual provides a useful introduction to the Bloom system but, in truth, there is some user experimentation required in order to fully appreciate what can be done. It’s worth the effort though; it’s both deep and powerful.
Given the ‘cinematic’ label Naroth Audio include in Bloom’s tag line, there are no prizes for guessing that media composers are the primary target for this instrument. Indeed, there are plenty of the presets that, with the right performance and some suitable use of the impressive Bloom (modulation) capabilities, could be used to create a full cue on their own, especially in terms of dark and mysterious soundscapes, ethereal orchestral textures or pulsing hybrid rhythms. All that sonic flexibility provided by the underlying engine does require a healthy dose of CPU but a little of Bloom goes quite a long way sonically. The presets are undoubtedly great in their own right but I think this is one for the composer or sound designer who likes to create their own sounds. Well worth the effort though; Bloom sounds bloomin’ marvellous.