Review: Slate + Ash – Landforms
Slate & Ash, plugin manufacturers from the United Kingdom came into the limelight on the release of their unique and extremely creative sampling plugin, Cycles. Recently they launched their third plugin, Landforms which aims at shifting the traditional orchestral perspective. Down below is our in-depth review of the plugin.
The U.S.P of Landforms is redefining the approach towards orchestral samples. As quoted in the official manual, Landforms is a Part sampler, part synthesizer that reshapes various orchestral samples into a sound design environment.
Upon opening up Landforms in Kontakt you’ll be met with 2 layers & 3 square-shaped boxes catering to Envelope, Perspective & Expression. Each layer has its own unique settings. You can easily switch and customize the layers by just clicking on them. When you click on a particular layer, the edit window for that particular layer shows up. You can choose a variety of different sounds such as Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Solo instruments & a few others. After selecting the sound source of your liking you can further customize the shape and movement of the sound. Along with various movement presets, you also get the option to modify the key range, tape stretching and toggles for MIDI effects modules.
Once you have selected the sound sources, you can start fiddling around with 3 square-shaped boxes catering to Envelope, Perspective & Expression which we spoke about earlier.
Each sound source has various different constituent sounds. When you click on the perspective mode a larger version of the square matrix opens up. Within the perspective section, you can move around those sound sources in space. You can randomize the positions, automate them with MIDI or record any particular patterns as well. If you have been intrigued by the stereo placement of sounds when it comes to movies & film scoring, this section right here is the key to similar types of movements and sound placements. An important factor while orchestral scoring is the movement. When recorded live, the movements are often deliberate or a consequence of the player playing in a particular environment. You can now perfectly emulate those particular actions using this section. You can also add/remove various microphone positions that were used while recording the sample as well.
This section is pretty straightforward and something you’ll find in almost any synth plugin. You can manipulate the ADSR envelopes of the Amplitude, Filter & Pitch, and a few more parameters of any of the 2 constituent layers of the sound. Alongside the parameters, you also get a graphical view of the envelopes which is quite convenient.
This section is used to dynamically interact with a sound. With the help of a MIDI controller, you can explore the true potential of this section. You can modify the amplitude, filters, and a few more parameters in real-time. There is also an option to modify these parameters using an LFO which could be quite useful in some use cases.
There is also a dedicated Effects section which can be opened by clicking on the “E” button on the top right end of the three square boxes. This section is a collection of 3 square boxes each catering to different effects that can be combined to modify the texture of the sound. There are a total of 15 effects divided among 6 categories to choose from. These effects are pretty different from the usual effect sections you would get in most of the modern-day plugins. Effects such as Ring, voice modulation, modal, noise, resonate etc. provide a unique texture to your sounds. You can also further dive deep into specific effects changing their parameters by simply clicking on them. The ability to manipulate the parameters with the help of an XY matrix opens the room for a lot of creativity.
The last 2 major features about the Landforms engine is the Blue and Red stripes on both sides of the plugin. The Blue Sidebar caters to the input modules where you can adjust the key & scale of the sounds, add harmonies etc. Within the blue sidebar, there is an interesting section called the Tape module. This module emulates the functioning of a classic tape machine. It’s quite useful when you aim to add vintage texture to your sounds. You can also create arpeggios within this section. In combination with the envelopes, this allows for a wide variety of rhythms and transient patterns for arpeggios.
The Red Sidebar has 5 constituent modules: EQ, Lofi, Compressor, Delay & Reverb. The modules are pretty straightforward and allow the user to tweak the sounds according to his/her liking.
The 68 GB Kontakt library Landforms by Slate+Ash is currently available for £291.
One thing you can assure on Slate + Ash plugins is the quality of samples. Be it Cycles, Auras, or Landforms, all the samples are of pristine quality and very well recorded. Landforms is a pretty complex library and might take a producer months to get the most out of it. Considering the price and complexity of the plugin, it’s not suitable for beginners in our opinion. However, if you are an advanced producer and like to incorporate orchestral sounds in your production, Landforms makes up for an outstanding addition to your toolkit.
Check out the playthrough of Landforms in the video down below.Buy here
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Image Credit: Slate+Ash