Morphestra puts a fresh spin on how we view and approach orchestral film scoring. Developed in association with Kirk Hunter Studios, it serves up an epic collection that’s anything but traditional. My copy came pre-installed on a Glyph 80GB PortaGig hard drive, but Morphestra will ship on a 160GB drive by the time you read this. Since it takes up just over 27GB, you’re getting a lot of bonus space for other libraries. Morphestra itself is powered by Native Instruments Kontakt Player 3 (standalone, RTAS, AU, VST, DXi). Sounds come in three top-level categories: Atmospheres, Instrumentals, and Percussives.
The Atmospheres bin is arguably the crown jewel, containing around 230 presets grouped in subcategories such as Dark ’n’ Scary, Disturbed, Euphoric, Mystery/ Suspense, and so on. What sets these programs apart from the rest is their deep internal movement and complex, evolving nature, ideal for initially building the mood of a piece. In “Days of Old,” for instance, random phrases of mournful sax are seamlessly, almost incidentally, woven between droning organ and reversed string loops, conveying a sense of blurred emotion.
The Instrumentals are less complex but just as animated. You get imaginatively tweaked renditions of solo and ensemble strings, metal and bamboo flutes, classical guitar, banjo, sitar, harp, vibe, chimes, music box, Clavinet, harpsichord, and more. Morphestra isn’t about usual suspects such as orchestral brass, woodwinds, or legato strings — all you get here is a trio of Kirk Hunter bonus programs. While the 225 main Instrumental patches loosely run the gamut of what you’d expect, there does seem to be a lot of repurposing from the same few dozen multisample sets, which results in some timbral redundancy.
Still, all the patches are individually compelling. With five tabs of more than 40 onscreen performance and effects parameters to pick from on the clean and simple interface, Kontakt’s advanced scripting is leveraged to create exciting morphed material that you can further sculpt. Likewise, a built-in arpeggiator/gater is the secret weapon behind tempo-synced layers that give movement to many of the melodic instruments, in a stepping Wavestation-esque sort of way.
In the Percussives category are hundreds of dynamic impact sequences, world and symphonic drum loops, bowed and struck orchestral percussion, scraped and reversed transitions, altered and prepared instruments, and more.
Finally, over 130 jaw-dropping multis amount to ready-made soundtracks in construction kit form. You can literally hit any combination of keys in nearly any order and generate minutes of mind-blowing aural scenery. Morphestra truly impresses, offering some of the most inspiring and relevant modern cinematic material I’ve heard in any synth or sample library. If you can’t whip up a killer score to any edgy film, TV drama, or video game with this bad boy on hand, maybe gear isn’t the problem.
Diverse, powerful, evocative material. Capable of huge textures right out of the box. Simple interface with easy controls for morphing. Mood-based preset organization is intuitive. Included hard drive means near-zero install time and no impact on storage space.
Not as many electro beats as in previous Sample Logic libraries. Some redundancy in Instrumentals bank.
NEED TO KNOW
Who’s this for? Any film, TV, or video game composer looking for modern, edgy, relevant sounds. Creators of electronic and experimental music will find a lot to love here, too.
How was it created? Samples were recorded in studios, concert halls, warehouses, machine shops, and natural habitats all over the world.
Can the included hard drive keep up with high track counts? Absolutely. Under the hood is 7,200rpm SATA-II drive with 8MB cache, bus power, and FW800 and USB2 connections.
What about street cred? Multis were programmed by Mark Isham, Rupert Gregson-Williams, David Lawrence, and Bill Brown, so if the street is in Hollywood, you’re set.