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Wrongtools Northwest Passage

Kontakt Instrument By Paul White
Published July 2024

Wrongtools Northwest Passage

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5 Stars

Northwest Passage, described as a “sea of guitars”, is a surprisingly affordable Kontakt instrument that takes 3.7GB of bowed electric guitar samples as its source material, enhanced by some very creative processing. Its 88 instrument patches are split into Leads, Polar, Short By ADSR, Still and Turbulent. The title comes about as the library’s creators wanted to build a sound set inspired by the ocean’s changing nature.

By using effects such as freeze and looper pedals as well as amps, the guitar, played using a violin bow, has been reshaped into a wide range of timbres. Load in one of the instruments and you’ll see a simple set of slider controls. Those to the left control Volume, Reverb, Delay, LFO, Vib, Dynamics and Glide. To the right there are between one and five faders, depending on the currently loaded instrument. These are essentially channel strips used to mix the different ‘tracks’ making up the sound; they may also be controlled via MIDI CCs and can be routed to different outputs. Clicking on Open Channel Strip shows controls for Pan, Stereo Width, Level and EQ bypass. EQ types are available from a drop‑down menu and pitch‑bend can be enabled/disabled for individual tracks. There’s also an adjustable low‑pass filter. The Dynamics fader is usually mapped to the mod wheel.

Click on a slider name and further parameters are displayed for adjustment. For example, click on Volume and you see ADSR controls as well as a sample start adjustment. An FX button opens the Sculpt menu, which uses effect presets to modulate and shape the sound in unusual and transformative ways. An X/Y pad allows the movement of the effects to be adjusted via CCs or DAW automation.

In the Leads section there are sounds reminiscent of analogue synths, grainy flutes, strings and ghostly organs. Though designated as leads, some would also double up perfectly well as pads. In the Polar section the sounds have a colder character — you can imagine ice crystals blowing across a frozen plain or a grainy version of someone bowing a wineglass. Short By ADSR conjures up icy pianos, fractured voices, tuned icicles and cave‑like sounds, while Turbulent adds a pulsing motion. The Still section serves up pads and drones, some cold and icy, others warm and flowing or string‑like. Sounds can be changed dramatically by rebalancing the track faders and/or using the surprisingly powerful Sculpt option, which can both reshape the sound and add complex motion, so you can get a lot of mileage out of this instrument.