Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
If you have a passion for composing for film/TV contexts, or for more experimental song‑based production, you may already be spoilt for choice when it comes to sound sources. However, as the cliché goes, the ideal number of virtual instruments is always N+1. If this applies to you then Strands — the first product from Void & Vista — may well be worth auditioning.
Described as a cinematic instrument and based upon a selection of sample‑based bowed and electronic sound sources, Strands is presented within a very stylish Kontakt front‑end. The core soundset is built from 32 sources (2.5GB in total) split into three categories; Bows, Effects and Waves. The Bows provide raw acoustic and electronic instruments and have clearly been sampled to capture the expressive capabilities of each source. The Effects group provides a set of heavily processed instrument and synth sounds, while the Waves group provides some purer synth and noise options. The UI lets you layer any two of the sounds as the basis of your preset and to ‘morph’ the blend of these.
There is perhaps nothing too radical in this basic concept, nor the ‘organic‑meets‑processed’ type of sounds, although the latter are undeniably good and full of sonic details. However, where Strands really steps up is in performance and modulation options then offered to draw out the full character of the underlying sounds. The UI’s clever and stylish design makes this something of a joy to exploit. For example, clicking on any of the seven performance control labels opens up additional control sets related to that feature, providing you with access to ADSR envelopes (for amplifier, pitch and filter), filter configuration, ‘motion’ (two LFOs), options for additional voices (with detune and stereo width controls), lo‑fi processing features, ‘character’ (essentially a three‑slot multi‑effects option) and a very effective delay/reverb. There are also slick MIDI options, making it easy to configure hands‑on control of the key elements of the modulation features.
Strands sounds fabulous and would grace any project, regardless of how ‘Hollywood’ the budget might be.
As a good number of the presets ably demonstrate, Strands is perhaps more of a sonic fit for darker, mysterious scoring duties (think horror, sci‑fi or gritty modern crime rather than rom‑com or period drama). However, if you should so choose, Stands can provide pretty much every element of your score including topline melodic sounds, percussive elements, rhythmic pulses and sound effects to go alongside those evolving textures/soundscapes. The UI is beautifully done and matched by the equally impressive underlying sounds. My only qualifier is that all that sonic goodness does require a fair amount of CPU grunt, but it’s undoubtedly worth it; Strands sound fabulous and would grace any project, regardless of how ‘Hollywood’ the budget might be. It’s also competitively priced and is well worth considering if you are looking for a suitable ‘+1’ candidate to add to your scoring toolkit.