Review: Diva Genotype by The Unfinished

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The Unfinished works his deft magic on Diva for lovers of the crusty, detuned and noisy vintage synth sound.

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Jump to the Demos of Diva Genotype by The Unfinished

 

Review: Diva Genotype by The Unfinished

Top synth programmer Matt Bowdler, aka The Unfinished, turns his attention back to u-he Diva with another beautifully themed set of sounds for arguably the best vintage synth emulator on the market. As the title suggests Genotype gets to the source DNA of synthesizers and embraces all we love and loathe about those dusty machines from the 60s to the 80s.

Compared to modern hardware, vintage synths by their nature have a range of idiosyncrasies that technically make them less than perfect. To many users, this adds a human fallibility that can be hugely appealing. The Diva synth is designed to emulate this erratic behavior with its ability to randomize elements like filter cutoff and to drift in and out of tune. These parameters take some time and skill to programme effectively, so The Unfinished has set himself to the task and done the nitty-gritty so you don’t have to and coupled it with a vision for twisted, cinematic textures.

Diva Genotype sells for £19.99 from The Unfinished

Thoughts

One of the first patches in this collection shows the kind of human fallibility I am talking about. Check out the oscillator voice detune section, which shows how the two VCOs in this patch are not quite pitch perfect and change for each of the 12 voices. There is also random variance in the cutoff and envelopes.

Detuned-Oscillators

It is this sort of ‘under the hood’ programming before you even get to tweaking LFOs, filters, etc that is the genetic imprint of this collection. The net result on this patch and the remaining 149 is unsteady tuning and a general warped evolution of sound as you play the keyboard.

Genotype comes with a good range of staple synth categories. The arps wobble away with a slightly macabre feel. The basslines are dark, throbbing and dirty. The basses continue this theme and are deep, distorted and powerful. There is also a good selection of atmospheric keys and leads, some of which are pretty lo-fi and tuned just the right side of wonky. The pads are always drifting, and sometimes quite sinister.

The Laki preset is a standout with a muted and complex Minimoog inspired signature that opens out the filter via the modwheel to a crusty fizz, soaked in chorus and plate reverb.

Laki-Preset

We also have a bunch of dystopian soundscapes the Stranger Things composers would be very proud of. Genotype is rounded out by some anxiety-inducing pulses/sequences and some uber pitch wobbling epic synths.

You will notice the rotary effect is used in many of these patches, but that does not mean the sound is spinning from side to side all the time. One of the quirks of Diva is that the only way of distorting a sound effectively is with the drive knob in the rotary 1 and rotary 2 effects, so The Unfinished uses this technique quite often to give a noisy, gritty edge, especially to the bassline presets.

The modwheel is put to good use throughout Genotype, often linked to the filter cutoff to varying degrees, enabling a smooth sweep to gradually reveal high frequencies within the preset.

The general feel here is predominantly dark, unpredictable and often unsettling. This is epitomized by the Damage Done soundscape preset, which growls and shapeshifts with increasing menace.

Genotype would work superbly for horror and sci-fi scoring and could be interesting for artists producing less mainstream electronic music.

Damage-Done-Preset

There is plenty of dark here, but little light. I think it would be awesome to have a companion collection which continues the erratic, detuned feel but instead is less aggressive and more ambient, even dare I say it euphoric – hope you are reading this Mr. Bowdler (hint, hint!).

The modeling of oscillators and filters from classic synths by the likes of Roland, Moog, and Korg is the major feature of the Diva soft synth. In addition, u-he incorporated excellent features to replicate the sound of playing an aging and unserviced slice of synth history. Until now, I am not sure anyone has created an entire sound set that really pushes Diva quite as hard into warped, detuned, retro chaos as much as Genotype does.

The Unfinished has created some hugely evocative, dynamic and inspiring sounds here – they really lead you off into hitherto unknown sonic playgrounds, playing chords and melodies you might not do otherwise. Being a huge fan of the Boards Of Canada aesthetic of embracing the raw wonkiness of old synths, all these sounds are very appealing. If you share similar tastes and get slightly turned off by the clinical nature of most modern synth sounds, I strongly encourage you to seek out Genotype and revel in the random beauty of it all.

Facts

Genotype consists of 150 preset patches for u-he Diva. You need the full version of the u-he’s Diva soft synth to use this product. The Unfinished does a very detailed walkthrough video (below), playing nearly every preset in each product, so I strongly recommend you check out the Genotype video to get a deeper understanding of the sonic signature of this collection.

Diva Genotype sells for £19.99 from The Unfinished

 

Demos of Diva Genotype by The Unfinished

Videos of Diva Genotype by The Unfinished

 

Contributor Sam Burt reviews Diva Genotype by The Unfinished
“The Unfinished works his deft magic on Diva for lovers of the crusty, detuned and noisy vintage synth sound”