Review: Angklung by Modwheel

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Modwheel’s predilection for highly-useful, left-of-center sample libraries continues with Angklung. As much fun as it is to use, it is obvious that the developers had just as much fun while creating this library. Each sample oozes musicality with patches that can comfortably handle anything from world music to film scores to – yes – 80’s rock.

Jump to the Videos of Angklung by Modwheel

Jump to the Demos of Angklung by Modwheel

 

 

Review: Angklung by Modwheel

Angklung “The Bamboozler” is Modwheel’s third entry into their Creative Differences Percussion Series, a “new angle” on drum and percussion libraries which focuses on “quality, organic percussion sounds recorded and designed for the Kontakt user.” The library fails to disappoint, with nearly two dozen incredibly useful and varied patches. Another perk? This library retails for only $15 USD.

Angklung sells for $15 USD from Modwheel

Thoughts

There are two broad schools of thought developers choose between when creating sample libraries for commercial distribution: large, traditional, bread-and-butter offerings in the one; small, quirky, highly-specific use cases in the other. At first glance, New Zealand-based Modwheel falls squarely into the second camp; no orchestras to be found here! But though their libraries are indeed on the smaller side, and the instruments they sample are – for lack of a better word – funky, their libraries are by no means narrow in usability. Case in point: Angklung.

Of Indonesian origin, the real-world instrument called the angklung is a collection of some number of resonant bamboo tubes, often tuned in octaves, attached to a bamboo frame. The angklung performer shakes the tube to create a repeating pitch. Each angklung typically is of one pitch-class, so full ensembles of performers – each responsible for one or two pitches only – are required to perform a melody, much like in Western handbell choirs.

Modwheel’s Angklung, of course, can be performed easily from the comfort of your MIDI keyboard, and its 23 patches cover nearly any variation on playability one could wish for – single hits (with, of course, *modwheel*-adjustable releases), sustained rattles, chords, and even sample + hold “freezes.”

A fun touch here is the plethora of wallpapers for these patches. Though there are 23 patches, there are 10 distinct wallpapers, most revolving around retro cars or close-ups of house flies from what appears to be old scientific documentaries. You can almost hear the voiceover in full-blown mid-Atlantic accent – how utterly spiffing!

 

This wide variety of wallpapers is incredibly fun, but it does reveal my one complaint about this library: inconsistent QC of GUI. For example, each patch’s GUI seems to be a slightly different pixel height. Also, sometimes the knobs have a shadow-box around them, and sometimes they don’t.

But, as most of these patches don’t really rely on intensive GUI manipulation to achieve their best results (most patches include only the one chickenhead reverb knob, anyways) this is a small and ultimately non-consequential point.

The GUI oddities quickly fade away as soon as you start playing, too. Each of the 1,570 samples just oozes musicality, and the tonal balance is firmly in Goldilocks territory. With just a bit of mixing magic these sounds can be made to fit into an authentic angklung ensemble milieu, but applying that magic differently can take you anywhere from the realms of the Ewok celebration in Return of the Jedi through to “Bora Bora 2000/Love Bomb” by The Tubes.

The sample + hold freeze patches eschew a natural sound for a digital, effected one. A stutter key (i.e. a “kill switch”) on C6 has been included, which bypasses the Attack and Release dialed in on the GUI, for immediate on/off toggling.

Angklung also includes a few patches which use samples that aren’t necessarily bamboo-derived. The BamBonezler includes bones, shells, and seed pods, while the BamStonezler includes a chromatic array of slate stone hits. The BamStonezler also includes an Arp patch, which houses the sole “complex” GUI in this library, through which I was able to quickly create some satisfying grooves.

All in all, while it might seem that bamboo hits, and especially those from the Indonesian angklung style, might be rather limited in scope (in the same way that one might imagine, say, a didgeridoo to have problems existing outside of an “Australian” context), Modwheel has taken great care to allow their Angklung to find a home in just about any wooden-pitched-percussion context the modern global composer might encounter!

Facts

Downloads at 1.4 GB with 1,570 samples across 23 patches recorded in stereo at 24bit/96KHz. Comes in .nki format for the full version of Kontakt 5.3.1 or higher.

Angklung can be purchased from Modwheel for only $15 USD!

Angklung sells for $15 USD from Modwheel

 

Demos of Angklung by Modwheel

 

Contributor Kent Kercher reviews Angklung by Modwheel
“Modwheel’s predilection for highly-useful, left-of-center sample libraries continues with Angklung. As much fun as it is to use, it is obvious that the developers had just as much fun while creating this library. Each sample oozes musicality with patches that can comfortably handle anything from world music to film scores to – yes – 80’s rock.”