Review: Bass Untamed by Westwood Instruments

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A beastly low end awaits. Westwood Instruments is making “virtual instruments for alternative composers” and the Untamed series is certainly just that. Following in their footsteps of Cello and Viola Untamed, Bass Untamed unleashes all of the glory of the solo double bass in a single NKI instrument. A beastly low end awaits us! Double bass doesn’t have to be boring!

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Review: Bass Untamed by Westwood Instruments

Westwood instruments have proven they have a knack for developing creative and exciting boutique instruments with their Untamed series and their exquisite Alt Piano. The Untamed instruments aren’t designed to be your standard legato instrument, they are designed as sound design instruments with unusual articulations and improvisations at they very heart of it’s design. Bass Untamed is a single NKI instrument with four sets of improvisations and ten different articulations.

Bass Untamed sells for £35 on launch offer then £65 from Westwood Instruments

Thoughts

Upon loading, first impressions of Bass Untamed is that it is an exquisitely presented instrument. The delicate monochrome GUI is clear and shows this to be an instrument of refinement. Instantly, it’s easy to see the improvisation banks and articulations at the bottom of the GUI. This got me really excited to explore what the instrument has to offer. Each of these categories are keyswitchable using the keys on the right of your controller. Normally it is the other way round yet this makes sense as you’ll be using the bass register to play the double bass.

There are four microphone controls, spot, close, room and gallery with a tape plugin for saturation control. There are six inbuilt impulse responses for reverb and an eq section. There is control for both the long and the short articulations in terms of attack and release and finally, something that I think is massively undervalued, a vibrato control. Everything is neatly and compactly laid out and with that, I’m ready to explore.

Firstly, the bass sound is stunning. It’s incredibly well sampled and full of body and power. The improvisations are around 20 to 30 seconds each and are triggered by a keyswitch. These are tonally played using the bass range on the left of your controller. These improvisations are not key specific yet can be used as a melodic instrument. Depending on the velocity pressure you use, you’ll get either a calm, lively or wild improvisation. The improvisation is all on the same note yet will have vibrato, rhythmic, bowing and pitch bend variation. When playing through these I found some amazing atmosphere creators and wild clusters. I did create four instances of Bass Untamed and played random improvisations and the moments of serenity and chaos this brought were stupendous. Interweaving bass lines weaving their magic.

The next articulation are the “Storms”. This is essentially a crescendo, but not any typical kind of crescendo. The power that that these provide is earth shakingly spectacular. They have a huge dynamic range, but the double bass actually growls and snarls at you as it gets louder. You can add more performance layers making a bigger sound using the modwheel. By the time it had reached full dynamics, my studio was shaking! As the sampling is dry, the detail is enormous and the overall sound just feels the room. This is why they are called “Storms” and not the standard crescendo. They are in one word, epic!

Next, we have the “glue” articulation which is the age-old technique of adding a sine wave to the low end. There are two versions here, a standard across the three octaves or an 8vb version which is a whole octave down for some serious low end. With this in the GUI, you can add a rhythmical pulse, a low pass filter and “grit” effect to roughen up the sound. Finally, there is a dynamic control which I spent a good amount of time with creating some incredible, resonant soundscapes.

After these more unconventional and downright unique articulations, we are in more familiar territory. The next articulation is the “Normale”. This is like a sustained patch and adheres to the typical modwheel for modulation and I assign the vibrato to my foot pedal. Having such control over the vibrato is such a deal breaker for me before long I was creating some great double bass ensembles with a subtle amount of vibrato.

Moving on, we have “Flautando” which is delicate while managing to retain the grunt of the double bass. The same can be said for the “Sul Pont” articulation which almost has a legato effect at the start of each note. The “Tremolo” is completely on point and accurate and the “Spiccato” articulation is razer sharp and has the weight of the double bass behind it. The “Pizzicato” sound great and depending on the velocity, you get a soft attack or a hard attack. Of course, the shorts can be adjusted in terms of sample start and tightness, but I found them to be perfect out of the box. Finally, we have “Ricochet” which can add some awesome flutter moments to your cues. Each and every one of these articulations sound brilliant and as the aesthetic sound of the bass is so great, they all retain the power and character of the double bass.

In conclusion, I think Bass Untamed is a fantastic instrument for the modern day contemporary composer. It ranges from a delicate double bass to, if you need it to be, an angry, loud or intense instrument. For an instrument at a low price point you get fantastic value for money. Yes, there is no legato, yet the instrument does not need to offer that for what it is designed to do. The “Storms” are incredible and earth-shaking, the glue is a great touch and will be used in my hybrid orchestral cues in addition to my classical work. These two features alone make this instrument stand out and that is without mention of the improvisations. These sound so natural and organic; they will add so much life to your compositions. The more traditional articulations are expertly samples and they sound full of body and earth. Coupled with the instrument controls and mic positions, this is one powerful library and one that I cannot wait to use more in my day to day composing. I hugely recommend this library and at this price point, it is a bargain!

Facts

6.2 GB download size
12.4 GB needed during installation
Full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 and above
Over 5100 samples
Over 11 GB uncompressed WAVs
Downloads with Pulse download manager

Bass Untamed sells for £35 on launch offer then £65 from Westwood Instruments

 

Demos of Bass Untamed by Westwood Instruments

 

Videos of Bass Untamed by Westwood Instruments


 

Contributor Pete Checkley reviews Bass Untamed by Westwood Instruments
“Alternative composing is currently hugely in demand finding it’s way through all kinds of media into our day to day life. As a result, we are starting to see more boutique developers like Westwood Instruments. This developer states they make “virtual instruments for alternative composers” and the Untamed series is certainly just that. Following in their footsteps of Cello and Viola Untamed, Bass Untamed unleashes all of the glory of the solo double bass in a single NKI instrument. A beastly low end awaits us! Double bass doesn’t have to be boring!”