Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
Orchestral Tools follow up their Time Macro library (reviewed in SOS September 2019 issue) with Time Micro. This continues the intriguing temporal-symphonic experiments on a smaller stage, using chamber-sized sections, small vocal groups and softer instruments to create more intimate textures while maintaining the exploratory articulations, dynamic gestures and rhythmic patterns of its big brother. The library (53GB installed) works with the free Kontakt Player and Kontakt full v5.8.1 or higher.
This leftfield collection simply bulges with goodies. Instant gratification can be found in the Time Orchestra layered patches — I loved the blissful euphoric atmosphere of 'Oceanic State', a beautiful evolving texture which swells from a breathy, flutey pad into a majestic symphonic soundscape. 'Winds Of The Past' deftly fuses light strings and woodwinds, while 'Heavy Ground' lays down a formidable double bass and contrabass clarinet low end. Other patches combine brass and voices in big, triumphal old-school symphonic textures.
'Altered time' patches defy the laws of nature by slowing down the sample rate and reversing the sample playback. This works well in the portentous-sounding 'Deserts Of Uranus' and 'Outer Space', both of which feature detuned brass and woodwinds. The serene tones of 'Waiting For A Train' are ideal for chordal work; by contrast, 'Atoms' is a crazy sci-fi sonic madhouse.
Time Micro introduces some delightful and relatively under-used orchestral wind instruments: I enjoyed the bass flute's 'airy sustains' and spitty repeated notes (which have an ethnic wooden flute flavour), the basset horn's dreamy high register and the cornet's noble-sounding 'majestic sustains'. String ensembles of three violins and three cellos also play some lovely stuff, including delicate, breathy sul tastos and delectable harmonic sustains, while the string quartet's excellent 'colour sustains' feature the players using a different bowing style on each note.
The three female and three male singers' performances include nicely sung, vibrato-free 'aahs' and prayer-like 'amens', and the women's random 'na na na' repeats and 'fifth drops' (which sound like husky dog yelps) are very effective. The vocalists also perform nice ticking clock effects, and the choir, woodwinds, brass and strings 'clockwork' rhythm patterns are a great source of light propulsive ostinatos, coming soon to a TV ad near you. My favourite sound in Time Micro is a small one: the harp/celeste/mandolin trio, who play some entrancing tremolo, fifth drops, stuttering and arpeggio performances as well as single hits.
If you want to compose standard 'epic' music, this eclectic library is probably not for you. Time Micro fits more into the grown-up world of psychological nuance, a subtle, original and intelligent piece of work which explores and extends orchestral texture and sound design in an imaginative and organic way. From the tiniest pianissimo whisperings to an imposing, complex symphonic backdrop, this adventurous collection should appeal to all composers who like to look beyond the obvious.