Regular readers might remember the recent reviews of Umlaut Audio’s Arps and Pads titles, both Kontakt-based sample library/virtual instruments. Arps delivered a very interesting tool for creating drum-based rhythms while Pads provides a means of creating evolving sound textures by blending and processing applied to two samples within its 5GB sample library. Despite the somewhat quirky interfaces, both are packed with features and, once you dig in, capable of some very useable sounds that many media composers would find very useful.
Umlaut’s latest release is Motors, which targets the same audience and is built upon a similar, Kontakt-based front-end. The title perhaps doesn’t give too much away as Motors is, in fact, a collection of rhythmic pulse sounds and, again, you get tools to blend two of these — plus a whole range of sound modulation and effects options — to create all sorts of rhythmic beds. It’s not just rhythm though; the nature of the sounds means the majority of them are pitched and you can trigger each sound layer over a two-octave range. This enables you to add a melodic element to the rhythmic patterns created.
A total of 80 rhythmic sound sources are included but each is supplied with three rhythmic variations and you can trigger these via keyswitches. Triggering can be linked between the two layers or each can be triggered independently and, with beat/bar sync and offset options, it’s easy to get all sorts of rhythmic variations. Add in both layer-specific and global effects options that include delay and reverb, and modulation options that also include step-based sequencing of parameters such as pan, pitch and volume, and you have plenty of ways to customise what’s going on and to squeeze maximum creativity out of the underlying sounds.
Some 140 presets are available and these are categorised as clean, complex and experimental. Unlike Arps, the raw sounds are perhaps less drum-like and more synthetic; pulses and bell-like sounds are mixed with synth-style sounds amongst the 80 sources. While you perhaps could get some ‘happy’ rhythms out of Motors, sonically, I think the instrument would favour those looking to create something a little darker. Blended with a synth or two, or some Pads-based soundscapes, you could easily push your drama/thriller/sci-fi audience towards the edge of their seats with Motors. Perhaps my only other comment is that Motors isn’t about ‘big hits’ (you need to add these from elsewhere); this is more about ‘rhythm’ and less about ‘impact’.
As with Arps, the basic building blocks look quite simple. However, dig in and you soon discover there is plenty going on under the hood. It is perhaps something of a niche instrument, but Motors is most certainly worth a look and good value considering the entry price.