Slate + Ash take a different approach to the orchestral sample library.
The Kontakt instrument format seems to have become an ecosystem all of its own in recent years, with more and more developers seeking to provide content to keep musicians and producers stimulated. While many of these instruments adopt a relatively familiar form, there are occasions when developers seek to shake up the Kontakt norm. This could certainly be said of Simon Ashdown and Will Slater, who form the partnership Slate + Ash. Their latest Kontakt‑based instrument, Landforms, draws upon their impressive output and credentials as composers and sound designers.
At the core of Landforms is a beautifully curated set of acoustic samples, with a little bit of source content in the guise of sound design. Sample capture was undertaken at Real World Studios, in the Wood Room.
The vast majority of Landforms instruments are assembled in groups of three; while these instruments conform to section types, some of the blends are really quite interesting. For example, the low woodwind samples consist of a combination of bass clarinet, bassoon and baritone sax. This keeps things blended within the section construct, but as with any traditional nuclear family, there’s enough diversity to keep things interesting.
This concept doesn’t end here, though. Each instrument has been meticulously spot‑miked, and the Wood Room has also been strewn with ambient mics in order to capture all the nuances and resonances that the room can offer. As we’ll find later, this provides an irresistible level of control, which extends well beyond the traditional concept of blending the room reverberation with the instrumental sample.
Returning to the sample content, instrument collectives are elegantly organised. The strings are presented in groups of basses, cellos and violins, while the woodwinds are split into high winds and low winds, with an additional trio of flutes. The brass are a little more generic, being split between high and low instrumentation. Flute and Violin are also featured in...