Sample Logic Bohemian – Breathtaking
Welcome back to StudioWise. This week we’re looking at another interesting release from Sample Logic which features over 800 (!!) instruments and multis played by a single person. This promises to be an epic journey, let’s get rolling.
Bohemian features a single artist, Laura Inserra, a Sicilian sound therapist and composer who works with a wide range of ancient and modern instruments, in particular, the Hang Drum – a fairly recent invention similar to a gong, but played rhythmically with the hands. Laura’s unique and hand-crafted instruments were expertly recorded at Skywalker Sound by Dann Thompson with over 10 microphones with various positions, I think this is going to be a fun review.
Opening Pandora’s Box
What immediately hits you is the airiness and almost 3D sound depth of the initial patches. Do doubt the lush effects play a great part, but there is an otherworldly texture to the recorded instruments that’s so unusual and something only capable of creating in the first place by a master of the instrument. The further you explore the more you find this amazing balance of tradition and cutting-edge technology consisting, it’s pretty awe-inspiring stuff. The balance does start tilting towards the digital as you invoke more FX engines, push the distortion levels and thicken the modulation, of course, but keeping everything sensible results in organic synthesis like nothing else I’ve heard so far.
The first atmospheres category is split between ambience and stingers, the latter being a lot more aggressive and cinematic. Both of these categories contain amazing patches and are probably the most successful of the library in regards to right out-of-the-box usable. The ambience selections are perfect foundation pads for film and video productions, with the stingers offering a lot of inspiration for your action film trailer projects.
Sample Logic has included all of the recordings as individual playable instruments, which is incredible – it’s just, unfortunately, the playability isn’t quite right due to the nature of the Kontakt platform. For instance, I was excited to test drive the hang drum, it’s an amazing instrument and very atmospheric and engrossing to listen to. The category included each of the elements of the instrument as separate files, so your harmonics, main hits, mutes, rolls etc… just don’t come together well as a complete, playable hang drum. Even multiple instances with different MIDI channels still don’t feel right, it’s a real shame.
However, the individual instruments are excellent in their own rights, especially when combined with the step animator – which really is a review in itself. Probably the most fully featured arpeggiator out there, the Step Animator allows you to easily draw velocity, pan and duration curves – fully customise the individual note pitch, length and stroke style – then MIDI drag and drop the results into your DAW – pretty amazing stuff.
The percussive category is unusual in that the majority of samples are made by hitting, blowing or affecting instruments in unusual ways. There are some absolutely amazing sound patches here, including arpeggiated sequences, loops and some smaller mapped kits. Standout patches include the astonishing Bowed Cymbals kit, Batman’s Wind Singers and pretty much everything in the transitions category, haha – I can’t choose!
The included multis are mostly very good and showcase the flexibility of the library. I wish Kontakt had a better way to browse multi’s, as currently, you need to totally reset the instrument each time you load a new one. But each comes with a tailored set of macro controls allowing some fairly wild changes in most cases.
Reverbs and delays and filters – oh my!
Bohemians UI is extremely easy to navigate, mostly dominated by nifty FX tiles ranging from the filter, distortion, delay, reverb and EQ, plus some modulation effects including 2 oscillator waves layer and a very simple-to-use LFO.
On top of that, some of the effects have their own individual animator, which hurts my brain thinking of all the possibilities you can apply to what might start out as a fairly vanilla-sounding patch and end up with absolute craziness. Though a lot of the effect layering possibilities are impressive, there is little actual control over results – mostly being a ‘turn it up and see what you get’ approach. I do like this, but going in with any preconceived concept in mind might leave you frustrated.
Fortunately, all of the FX power is simple to control, most FX tiles have their own level control, with a hi/lo pass filter, stereo width and volume filter in easy reach on the main page. The big downside and it’s only if you’re like me and get out of control applying a wall of FX to everything, but when layering multiple instances of Bohemian the ever-building FX processes wash most of the dynamics and timbre of the original instrument into mud. An obvious answer would be for a separate, global FX processor – something I would love to use on other FX and instruments in my collection. Dreams are free, I guess.
Sample Logic Bohemian is a masterpiece. Not only is the recording source and talent second to none, but the extremely clever interface blends the expertly curated playing of Laura Inserra with the digital processing of the audio engine to produce one of the most unique and instantly usable instruments available.
There is a lot to explore here, and though it mostly excels at atmospheres and pad-style sounds, there are plenty of dry recorded percussion and played instruments to work with. Initially, I thought this better suited to sound designers, really there is a lot to discover for film and TV composers, music producers and pretty much anyone looking for organic and interesting sounds.
It would be nice if the individual instrumentals category patches were arranged better into playable banks with articulations, not the individual banks. Also, this is a seriously expensive library at $300 USD, possibly overpriced by $100 or so I feel. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, it’s just right up there with a lot of the high-end sample libraries which will be a lot more attractive for smaller studios on limited budgets.
I do highly recommend Bohemian, which by far is my favourite of the current selection from SampleLogic. Every producer should have a good sounding and flexible pad collection in their toolkit, with Bohemian, great pads and atmospheres are only the tip of the iceberg.
Visit Sample Logic’s main site for more details and full purchasing options. www.samplelogic.com