Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
Billing itself as a “celebration of un‑notated traditions”, Spitfire’s Albion Solstice may be the most surprising addition to the iconic series. While it may at first seem, both from the billing and a jaunt through the product, that Solstice is a collection of “all the remarkably cool things we couldn’t find a way to fit into the other packages”, there is a unifying sensibility to the hefty 73GB collection. And while clearly eclectic amongst its Albion peers, Solstice nevertheless fits aesthetically into the series as a whole, while providing an earthy and folkish set of options to lovers of the Spitfire sound.
Beginning in the main Solstice Orchestra collection, we encounter folders of strings, brasswind combos, folk pipes and flutes, several collections of percussion instruments, a ‘band’ folder, and a choir. The surprisingly substantial string family is divided into folders of sextet, octet and bass options. In most of the instrument folders there are options for standard techniques, an extended techniques instrument, as well as what Spitfire calls ‘evos’ and ‘motors’. Evos are organic pad‑like instruments based around individual or ensemble techniques, and add a substantial portfolio of such options for the composer. The motors option provides various repeated patterns recorded at 90 and 110 bpm, with sliders to adjust tempo speeds from this starting point. Motors may seem limited and disappointing at first, but yield a great deal of usefulness upon further exploration.
While standard repeating note patterns on strings may be useful, the quirky repeating ‘na nas’ and expressive layering options in the choirs folder are a unique touch in the library, while the strummed chords options in the Gut Circle (acoustic plucked instrument) folders provide great track starting points and backgrounds. One practical use with motors is layering them with other similar pattern instruments to create greater depth and realism to the sound.
Moving through the instruments, the brass and winds combo folder is great for ensemble layering, while the pipes folder contains a nicely sampled pan pipe. A particular favourite was the Generator Trio, including a beautifully sampled and highly playable expression and gentle electric guitar. The choir folder also provided a large sampling of folk‑like techniques. Also included are a substantive collection of options under the Cassette Orchestra (utilising Spitfire’s eDNA engine) and the Drone grid (familiar to users of LCO Textures).
Whether you are looking for great layering options or want to create an orchestral mix using instruments which are just a bit different and folk‑like, Solstice opens up into a surprising array of choices capable of adding depth to many a mix, creating a package whose content will take many hours to fully explore. In the end, Solstice is a library quite capable of greatly expanding your sonic palette.