Review: Chordscape by Divergent Audio Group

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Welcome to the Divergent Audio Imaginarium! Chordscape’s unique engine is literally an imagination machine that provides endless ambient combinations with fairly minimal effort. Definitely not a one trick pony though, Chordscape also delivers dark and mechanical sounds that fit perfectly in a suspenseful cinematic or horror scene.

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Review: Chordscape by Divergent Audio Group

Chordscape by Divergent Audio Group sells for  £75.00 + VAT exclusively at KontaktHub

At the time of posting Chordscapes was on a special intro price of £45.00.

 

Thoughts

Chordscape is a joint venture between Divergent Audio Group, Channel Robot and Erick McNerney. This is the third library to come out under the Divergent name in the past several months and like its predecessors I found it to be quite innovative. Chordscape is literally an imagination machine with the capability to conjure everything from the sublime ambient to dark and menacing or metallic atonal sounds

At first blush, if you listen to the very ambient snapshots that are included, it immediately reminds you of Brian Eno, Harold Budd and the legion of 4AD artists and their seminal albums from the genre. Chordscape is definitely not a one trick pony by any means. In addition to the excellent ambient content, you will also find dark and mechanical sounds that fit perfectly in a suspenseful cinematic scene or a horror piece along with more hopeful sounds that add buoyancy and movement to whatever type of composition you may need.. Chordscape can be very simple to use or you can go very deep into tweaking individual controls and literally get lost creating your own sounds. This is one instrument where you get some amazing results through tinkering  when creating your own sound design snapshots.

One of the key selling points for me was that the sound is constantly evolving

One of the key selling points for me was that the sound is constantly evolving and Chordscape never plays the same sound twice. On the surface, that may sound like an issue of not being able to obtain a repeatable pattern but for the most efficient uses of the library I think it is right on the money.

Let’s have a look at Chordscape…

Chordscape’s interface is laid out very much like a lunchbox style channel strip, with four individual channels for each sound. Each one has independent controls although you can lock them together as a group and adjust your parameters across any of the group-locked sound sources and the changes will be made simultaneously.

On the main mixer page, walking down a single channel strip you’ll notice that they are divided into logical sections much like a regular DAW effect. Under the very top which is the sound source, you have filter controls for High, Band and Low pass filters, along with independent frequency and resonance controls. In the next section is the LFO control with four individual waveforms options, along with frequency and depth controls. If you choose to use the onboard effects, the four level controls underneath the LFO will allow you to dial in the desired amount of fact to be used. The names will change based on the effect you have loaded in each slot. We will cover the send effects themselves in just bit later.

The final segment of the sound source controls is dedicated to providing control for overall gain, panning, pitch control and a really cool wow and flutter tape control. Beneath that set of controls you will find two columns labeled Age and Type. These are settings to allow you to select the age of tape emulation that you would like to use and the type of tape saturation that you would like to pick for that particular sound source, either one of the Feros types or a Metal tape sound. I thought it was a unique addition to have the decades and styles of tape saturation built in to further allow you to enhance your sound. The final column provides playback control that allows you to choose whether or not playback of the sound is smooth or whether the grains are assembled and played back in a more complex fashion. Simply tweaking a couple of these parameters while your sound is playing will immediately give you an idea of how powerful the shaping capabilities are.

Each sound source has its own keyswitch that allows you to turn it on or off. You can also turn it off in your DAW. If I have one criticism here, it is the fact that Chordscape starts playing as soon you load the library and you want it off you need to manually do that. There is also a series of keyswitches that allow you to re-pitch the overall sound while it is playing, but generally most of the heavy lifting that you will do (and I use that term somewhat it jest due to the simplicity of working with the library) is going to be in making changes to the interface itself.

Clearly a great deal of care went into developing these samples and creating the sound sources for the library. Despite the fact that there are over 200 snapshots included with Chordscape, like me, you might want to go off and explore what you can create on your own in order to achieve a more original sounding composition. By clicking on each one of the individual channels, you can access the various types of sound categories (14 in total) and inside of those audition the individual presets.

The 200+ snapshots offer some really great starting points for getting your creative juices flowing.

Putting tinkering aside for a moment, those 200+ snapshots offer some really great starting points for getting your creative juices flowing. Some of the more ambient snapshots remind me of the installation pieces that Eno has done in the past. Once you started playing, you literally could set it and forget it and it will just keep morphing on its own. Behind the scenes, the sound is being re-pitched over several octaves by less than a semitone at a time which when you combine four different sound sources together provides a decent amount of depth.

You can also right click on the modulation controls themselves and bring up the underlying modulation stepping and if you choose, modify it or redraw it in its entirety. Lindon Parker provides a really good complete walk-through of these capabilities in his intro video that is linked below.

One of the things that I really enjoy about Chordscape is the fact that it has an individual sequencer for each of the four sound sources. One of the things that’s important to note is that you do not have to use all four channels in order to get creative and effective sound from the library. This was immediately evidenced to me by the ability to take a single channel, load up the sound and start playing with the sequencer and changing not only the number of steps but also redrawing the curves in order to try different patterns out. In order to get the sequencer playing, you do need to press the play button at the very top of that interface page. You can take the pattern from one sequencer and copy it and paste it into each of the other three if you choose to do so or you can use the drop-down menu presets and choose one of the provided patterns. There is also space to save five of your own presets patterns. This is one small issue for me. I would have liked to see a larger number of use presets that could be saved. Another important thing to note here is that you can also change the scale for the sequence at the top using the drop-down provided.

I have always been a stickler for using premium plug-ins in my DAW for effects and I probably put that statement into so many reviews that you’re sick of reading it, but when it comes to libraries like Chordscape, I often end up breaking my own rules. When using an engine like this that has multiple sound sources and sources of modulation and effects that are applied in combination,it would be really hard to achieve the same process without creating four separate instances in your DAW and spending a lot of wasted time. There are four available slots, each offering five different types of effects: Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flanger and Phaser. Turn off any or all of these four slots to limit the effects being sent to the channel the mixer.

One of the things that defines Chordscape as a unique library is the impressive array and diversity of content that you can create with fairly minimal effort.

Chordscape came to me with high expectations after Divergent’s previous two libraries and I feel like they did not disappoint here. I think one of the things that defines Chordscape as a unique library is the impressive array and diversity of content that you can create with fairly minimal effort. If you are looking for sounds that contain that something special. different and out-of-the-way from the current choices in the marketplace, then this may just be for you.

Chordscape it is the perfect tool for providing movement, ambience, sound effects, noise and will even have a place some cinematic scoring. This is also an excellent library for the development of electronic music and pretty much covers the bases in being able to provide content to create a signature sound.

As with all my reviews, before making your purchase, please check out the official demos to make sure that this is the right tool for you.

 

Facts

Chordscape downloads at 6 GB and requires the full version of Kontakt 5.5. The free version of Kontakt is not supported. Chordscape includes 200 snapshots and over 800 samples comprising 14 different sound categories.

Chordscape by Divergent Audio Group sells for  £75.00 exclusively at KontaktHub

 

Demos of Chordscape

Videos of Chordscape