Ghostwriter is the brainchild of award-winning composer,
musician, and sound design expert Steven Wilson (of progressive rock
band Porcupine Tree) and Doug Rogers of EastWest. Ghostwriter utilizes
EastWest's new Play 4 engine, which now features a new amp simulator and
Echoplex EP-1 delay designed specifically for this library. Going by
the name and product description, I initially thought Ghostwriter was
going to be a collection of sampled phrases, like many libraries that
use the “construction kit” approach to build up soundtracks. That’s not
the case. With over 60GB of guitars, basses, drums, keyboards, vocals,
and a few random odds and ends, Ghostwriter is intended to inspire
composition through a collection of dark, moody sounds focusing clearly
on rock instrumentation. This is accomplished through the masterful use
of instrument choice and effects to create an eerie and sometimes
disturbing sonic landscape.
Ghostwriter’s instruments are divided into six folders of
Guitar, Bass, Keys, Drums, Vocals, and Miscellaneous. The library is
very well organized, and most of the individual instruments have very
detailed names that let you clearly know what you're selecting, like
“Baritone Marshall Dirty PwrChords” in the Baritone Les Paul folder
under Guitars. With so much great content to wade through and learn,
this makes it simple and efficient to navigate the library and is
By far, the greatest attention is given to the guitars,
and it will take some time to explore all the various articulations and
sonic creations. The guitars are provided in a myriad of ways, like
direct, dirty, heavy, spacey, modulated, driven heavy, re-amped, and so
on. Each sound is tastefully created specifically for the instrument at
hand, and practically everything is useful in one way or another.
Once you find an instrument and sonic approach you like,
you're typically given a number of performance articulations, like
sustained (with and without vibrato), staccato, muted, muted staccato,
round-robin, and so on. There's a Master patch for each flavor that
contains all the articulations in a key-switched version; however, these
patches obviously have much larger memory requirements and are slower
There are only three basses included, but they all sound
amazing and cover a lot of bottom end territory. The “Tunnel” and
“Obliterator” basses are given just a few variations, like normal, fuzz,
swell, and filtered. The “Spector” bass is a more developed collection
with DI, amp, grunge, edgy, fuzz, re-amped, and reverberant sub-folders.
Fingered, picked, sustains, muted, slides and expressive vibrato give
you a lot of choices for building some very musical bass parts. Tweaking
or adding additional processing from the effects built into the Play
engine (EastWest's own sample playback platform, baked into their
virtual instruments) gives you a wide berth of bass possibilities from
thunderous to unsettling to downright nasty.
The keyboards and vocals are a lot lighter in the choices.
Vocals are mostly male or female oohs and ahs, but they've been given
some amped, filtered, and ambient variations. Keyboards and mallets are a
cool collection of tripped-out Clavinet, pianos, Mellotron strings,
celesta, glockenspiel, vibes, Farfisa, and a few other things. They’ve
all been processed pretty heavily and made into something cool and eerie
that would fit right into an episode of American Horror Story. Bizarre
keyboard-based textures are easily found in other libraries and synths,
so I understand why Ghostwriter focuses mostly on the elaborate
textures achieved with guitars and basses: It's harder to do this well,
and that's the point.
The drum folder is built primarily around one kit, with an
alternate snare provided for some patches. You get the kit dry, dry
with gated reverb, run through various mono amps (via the simulator),
and with various effects. “Snare 1” usually gives you the options of
snares on, snares on and wet, and with snares off. “Snare 2” is just an
alternate drum with snares on.
I did wish there was more content in the drum department. I
understand Ghostwriter isn't intended to be a full drum library; and
there are many other great rock drum libraries to be had, including
EastWest’s own Ministry of Rock 1 and 2. But I would have liked more
articulations, better cymbals, and a few more kit variations to feel
like I had it all covered inside Ghostwriter. The effects and mangled
sonic variations provided are really good and creative; however, I'd
like to be able to swap out a kick or set of toms, considering you can’t
individually tweak the envelope or tuning of individual kit elements. I
felt everything ultimately had a “sameness” to it that lent itself to
simple patterns rather than detailed drum performances that sound real,
in spite of the imaginative variations of the effects. Perhaps that was
just my experience with it, but I'm looking at it from the perspective
of what personally inspires me.
The miscellaneous sounds round out the collection. Across
the board, it’s evident that a lot of time and effort went into creating
these sounds, all with an ear towards coming up with cool things
appropriate for the type of instrument in hand. This is where the
experience and recording skills of Wilson and Rogers really shine
through, as pretty much everything here is useful in some way for this
type of genre work.
Amp Models and Effects
In general, generous use of effects is employed to create
all these great textures. Some effects are integrated into the samples
(like a Leslie) and at other times the effects are added within the Play
4 engine, including the new amp simulator and EP-1 delay.
The amp simulator comes with 80 presets that sound killer.
If it were a standalone plug-in, I'd use it. Common amps like Fender,
Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Soldano, and Vox are well represented, as are
less common amps by Engl, Divided by Thirteen, ToneKing, and Cameron
heads. Most models give you different mic choices built into the preset
name, like “Aguilar Bass Rig AKG D-112” or “Roland 421.” It’s not an
exhaustive collection of mic choices, and you can’t blend two mic or amp
combinations; it’s simply a large collection of presets. Other than the
Vox AC-30, it’s not visually obvious what model of amp you’re using.
However, they largely sound really good as a way to further mangle the
sounds, and each amp model allows you to tweak the drive, bass, mid,
treble, and master volume.
The new EP-1 Delay allows you to set the delay time either
in milliseconds or sync to your host with a specific beat relation
(like a quarter-note). Controls for flutter, drive, echo time, repeats
and level are provided. There are no controls for creating panning
delays or the sort; again, it’s not designed for that. The delay remains
in stereo for stereo patches, and it really adds more depth and
flexibility to the sounds, overall. Alongside the built-in convolution
reverb and SSL modules in Play 4, there's a lot of sound design power in
the hands of the user.
Once I understood the approach to Ghostwriter, I was able
to realize its full potential as a collection of inspiring sounds. For
me, simply going through the sounds would inspire a riff or motif that I
could build on quickly.
Creating authentic modern, interesting cinematic textures
in this genre is hard work, as it takes a real knowledge of tone and
effects to sound masterful. Given Wilson’s experience and credits, I
felt there was a lot of skill and integrity sitting next to me as I
begin exploring the various textures. When you need dark and
otherworldly, Ghostwriter is a beautifully sinister collection of sonic
PROS: Inspiring sounds geared towards TV, film, and game
soundtracks with a dark edge. Great collection of guitars and basses
with a musical set of articulations. Excellent use of effects for
unsettling ambiances and textures. Improved Play 4 engine adds new
guitar amp simulator and Echoplex EP-1 delay. Tons of personality.
CONS: Specific focus of instrumentation and mood make it a set
of very interesting colors rather than a full palette. Drum kit is
Bottom Line: Eerie and otherworldly, Ghostwriter marries modern
cinematic and progressive rock tones into an unholy union that is
ghoulishly great fun.
$395 street | soundsonline.com