Orchestral Tools FABRIK, a sound set perfect for filmmaking

The SINE Player plug-in from Orchestral Tools is now home to a new collection of samples made with non-traditional means that are perfect for creating soundscapes with. The set is called “FABRIK”, a name that calls up images of industrialisation.

With the new FABRIK series, the Orchestral Tools designers have created a new set of virtual instruments by combining sounds from field recordings, electronic noise, and unusual acoustic instruments. There are two collections in FABRIK: Transit and Radome.

The byline of the Transit set reads “Cities in motion”. It contains Bass, Pads and Analogue Synthesiser categories with samples that include tonal, atonal and percussive instruments. The Pads category, for example, contains samples such as “Engine start”, “Harmonic Rotor”, “Stoker”… The Bass category includes “Petroleum” and “Spark Plug”, and so on…

While Spark Plug and Engine Start make sense as descriptions — although they sound different from what I associate with those names — some of the names are really far-fetched. An example is Petroleum. All I can associate with petroleum is the sound of an explosion. That, it is not in the Transit set. Petroleum sounds like a slightly altered synthesiser (sine?) wave sound.

That’s a problem I have with many of the Transit samples — the naming scheme is like with any synth patch: obscure. I also found that some of them sound like if you have a synthesiser, you can make them yourself. To be honest, that is generously compensated for by others — the atonal noise samples that sound like they were recorded close to a steam engine come to mind — but even then, I found the Transit set a bit of a mixed bag.

The Radome set is of an entirely different level, at least in my opinion. It says on the box it’s experimental cello and, while I am absolutely not an avid avant-garde music listener, the samples you’ll find in Radome are unsurpassed when you’re going to create music as well as soundscapes. The timbres in this set range from very, very dark to quite bright.

Of some of the samples included with Radome, I didn’t even know you could create those using a bowed instrument without wreaking it. These are very rich tones, some of them not harmonious at all, but then you hit a chord that’s not supposed to work well and suddenly you’re exposed to a strange, diaphonous sound.

In this set you’ll find glissandi like you’ve never heard them. I know “normal” glissandi sound a bit off-tune due to the technique being used. You’ll find those in the Berlin Series (which is a stunningly good bundle — read my review here). However, many of the ones you’ll find in the Radome set are more exciting than the “normal” ones. They make you sit on the edge of your seat because they sound like you’re in a completely different universe. Use these with a matching film scene and your audience will find themselves submerged in the emotion you’re trying to get across.

Almost everything in Radome is surprising in the best sense of the word. And Radome keeps on giving. The folder “Transformed” holds samples that are played on the cello but have been altered or “enriched” by using a synth (or perhaps algorithmic effects). The Transformed sounds find themselves on the edge of two sonic worlds: that of an analogue instrument answering to the laws of physics and that of an electronic world where anything goes.

These do suffer from the same naming fuzziness as synth patches do (unless, of course, you know instinctively what “Thyratron” sounds like), but they’re truly unique, so you won’t mind. The “Parabola” sample, for example, is a drone that sounds very rich, not at all like a cello and yet…

In this folder, you’ll also find Textures, Static and Interference, Pulse, and Noise samples.

Playing any of the Transit and Radome patches in Sine Player is like with every other Orchestral Tools instrument. Mastering this environment takes less than an hour and from then on it’s enjoying the most beautiful sampled instruments and expressions (articulations) or, in the case of FABRIK, novel sound samples that allow you to create unique audio projects.

FABRIK is available from the Orchestral Tools website with Transit retailing at EUR 39.00 (EUR 29 at the time of writing) and Radome at EUR 69.00 (EUR 49 at the time of writing).