Review + First Look: Olafur Arnalds Stratus by Spitfire Audio
A wonderful recreation of Olafur Arnald’s own commissioned Stratus software
Olafur’s own self-playing pianos have been beautifully sampled
The included Warps are beautiful and are great for creating ambient soundbeds
Randomization controls for both the Stratus matrix and FX
Randomize time feature allows you to randomize from every 1-16 beats, creating evolving and wonderfully unpredictable results
Some of Olafur’s own plate reverbs are included
Very niche – not an all-purpose library
From the gentle cascades of Olafur’s self-playing pianos to the beautiful polyrhythmic synth loops taken from his Korg PS-3100 and Juno-60, Stratus is sonic beauty at its lowest and most magical volume.
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Review: Olafur Arnalds Stratus by Spitfire Audio
Olafur Arnalds Stratus is a beautiful instrument that transports you into the world of Olafur’s 2018 album, Re:member. If you have ever wished that the sound of Olafur Arnald’s self-playing pianos could also accompany your own piano playing, you will love Stratus.
The wonderful collaboration between Spitfire Audio and Olafur Arnalds has now continued into its fourth iteration, Olafur Arnalds Stratus. Recreated from Olafur’s own acclaimed Stratus software, this library brings the beauty and magic of Olafur’s self-playing pianos to your fingertips with gentle cascading polyrhythms that accompany your own piano playing. From the beautifully mellow synth loops and warps to the cascading waterfall of polyrhythms sampled from Olafur’s self-playing pianos, Olafur Arnalds Stratus is, simply put, gentle and beautiful.
Olafur Arnalds Stratus sells for $299.99 from Spitfire Audio
When Olafur Arnalds introduced the world to his unique software that used his own piano playing to control his two self-playing pianos with a series of complex MIDI algorithms, I was mesmerized. I love the music of Olafur Arnalds, and his Stratus software represented a whole new sonic landscape that only increased my fondness for his unique sound. In Olafur Arnalds Stratus, Spitfire Audio have worked with Olafur to recreate that same feel and mood from his original Stratus software and have even sampled Olafur’s self-playing pianos, panning them across the stereo field to give a true representation of the pianos in their space. Stratus is a beautiful instrument that unlocks the shimmering cascade of gentle piano rain that is so beautifully spread across Olafur’s 2018 album: Re:member.
Olafur Arnalds Stratus is presented in eight matrics: four piano matrices (Rhythmic Waves, Rhythmic Attacks, Looped Rhythms, and Swarms) and four synth matrics (Looped Rhythms, Swarms, Looped Rhythms Shorts 1, and Looped Rhythms Shorts 2). In addition, there are 35 synth warps (Olafur’s synth sounds processed through outboard gear and FX) presented in Spitfire Audio’s Mercury Synth engine. Lastly, there is also a Piano folder that includes three Stratus Piano patches, Centre, Left, and Right.
Those familiar with Spitfire’s Evo grid will immediately feel at home when opening Stratus. The structure of the Stratus matrix is very similar and similarly easy to use. Users can either unify the grid to affect each note with the same loop or wave, or the entire grid can be randomized to introduce entirely new textures and movements that combine multiple loops and waves across the played keys. One of my favorite features within the Stratus matrix is the Randomize/Time control. This control allows you to set the grid to self-randomize from every 1-16 beats, meaning your performance is constantly evolving as the grid continually randomizes. This is a really excellent feature but might also mean that you want to record the sound of each performance and not just the played MIDI notes, as it would be impossible to recreate each performance. Another wonderful feature is the ability to randomize all of the FX at once. This also leads to some beautiful sonic accidents that would also be impossible to easily recreate. Within the FX tab, you will also find four of Olafur’s own plate reverb impulse responses, as well as one for his Chamber Evos.
The self-playing pianos are obviously the star of the show within Stratus, but the Synth Matrix should definitely not go unnoticed. Taken from Olafur’s own Korg PS-3100 and Juno-60 synths, the included synth waves and loops are beautiful and will make wonderful ambient beds for both underscore or ambient work. In addition, there are also 35 synth warps that were created from processing the original synth material through outboard gear and FX. These are presented within Spitfire Audio’s Mercury Synth engine, and are really, really beautiful.
I love Olafur Arnalds Stratus. As a fan of Olafur’s music, Stratus is a dream come true for me. I feel blessed and thankful that Olafur has chosen to share some of his secret sauce with the rest of us. The beautifully delicate cascading piano polyrhythms and synth warps and loops are lovely and make an excellent addition to Spitfire Audio’s Olafur Arnalds collection.
Olafur Arnalds Stratus is based on Olafur Arnald’s sophisticated software that uses MIDI algorithms to trigger a mix of straight and syncopated rhythmic patterns of notes on two self-playing pianos. Stratus comes with four piano matrices, four synth matrices, and a good number of synth warps that can be used for creating that familiar Scandi ambience and vibe Olafur is known for. Stratus can be used with either the free Kontakt Player or the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or higher and is available from Spitfire Audio for $299. However, currently Stratus is available for the intro price of $249 until April 9, 2020. In addition, owners of the previous Olafur Arnalds library collaborations from Spitfire receive an additional 5% off for each Olafur Arnalds library they already own.
Olafur Arnalds Stratus sells for $299.99 from Spitfire Audio
Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews Olafur Arnalds Stratus by Spitfire Audio
“From the gentle cascades of Olafur’s self-playing pianos to the beautiful polyrhythmic synth loops taken from his Korg PS-3100 and Juno-60, Stratus is sonic beauty at its lowest and most magical volume.”