Review: Fission A and Fission B by Triple Spiral Audio
Libraries provide a perfect complement to one another
Front page GUI for Fission A well laid out and easy to understand
Sound sources are well created and the quality is exceptional
Patches and snapshots are incredibly inspirational
Modulation possibilities, especially for Fission B, are pretty endless
As typical, I always find issue with the Kontakt reverb section however, Fission A is much further developed and diverse than most libraries I’ve used for Kontakt. I do like the addition of the various Plate Reverbs.
To be blunt, you are not going to be composing the sequel to a feel-good Disney movie with this library. I think what fascinates me most, is the vintage dusty attic feel as if you are transported to a different, nostalgic time long ago where you get the sense of something familiar yet the sense of also being displaced.
Jump to the Videos of Fission A and Fission B by Triple Spiral Audio
Jump to the Demos of Fission A and Fission B by Triple Spiral Audio
Review: Fission A and Fission B by Triple Spiral Audio
Okay, admittedly, I have not watched the TV series Chernobyl from which these 2 fantastic sound libraries from Triple Spiral Audio are based. I understand this series has been considered, by many, to be one of the most poignant works for the screen ever accomplished. On a personal level, I fully recall the meltdown back in 1986 as I was living in the FRG at the time and watched this preventable catastrophe, with horror, on the Armed Forces Network. That aside, I am however, fairly familiar with the composer who created the music for this series, Icelandic artist Hildur Guðnadóttir who I first became acquainted with during her tenure with the industrial group Throbbing Gristle. In these 2 libraries, Jaap tries to capture the ethereal essence of her sound and bring them to us via 2 platforms, Kontakt 6 and Omnisphere. Jaap imports most of his own sounds into these libraries and molds them in a way to help us, the composer and performer, to recreate a landscape not dissimilar to the one created for Chernobyl.
I think I’ve lost count on the total number of sound libraries I have bought from Jaap the past few years. For those who are not familiar, Jaap Visser is the mastermind behind Triple Spiral Audio. He has created libraries for numerous platforms including Omnisphere, Kontakt, Zebra 2, Falcon, Avenger (please do more for this platform, man!!), and a slew more. Jaap doesn’t just take the native Omnisphere sound sources and develop patches, he imports his own sound files and customizes them with his native knowledge of the applicable VST. The end result is quite thematic and sophisticated and, frankly, I have yet to buy a library from him where I wasn’t immediately inspired to “create”!!
The reason I am presenting these 2 libraries under one umbrella is, well, they are related to each other. Each utilize pretty much the same imported sound files with the intent of generating a similar landscape of sound and emotion. For those familiar with both Kontakt and Omnisphere, you know that there are huge differences between the 2: Kontakt is, primarily, an engine which hosts a developers VST, it is not actually a virtual synth like Omnisphere. In Kontakt, you have to program the modulation features, in Omnisphere you primarily import the samples and customize those patches utilizing the extensive modulation features built into the interface. To simplify, Kontakt is a sampler and Omnisphere is BOTH a sampler and a synthesizer, perhaps the most powerful one on the market.
The example above is the Fission A main page interface. It is pretty much the same as one of Jaap’s recent library entitled Universe. It’s a 2-layer sample engine that draws on 200 unique sound sources. These sounds are derived from both organic or synthesized sounds including piano, cello, bassoon, bass, flute, guitar and field recordings. Blended together and modulated, they produce an eeriness which invoke abandonment, fear, paranoia, dread and emptiness; there is little in the way of positive emotions. To be blunt, you are not going to be composing the sequel to a feel-good Disney movie with this library. I think what fascinates me most, is the vintage dusty attic feel to many of the snapshots, as if you were transported to a different, nostalgic time long ago where you get the sense of something familiar yet the sense of also being displaced.
Each sound source comes with its own envelope (ADSR), Low Pass Filter, Filter Envelope and Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) which can be synced to the host tempo and assigned 1 of 4 patterns: sine, triangle, sawtooth or square. The main page also contains a global convolution reverb, delay and a pretty straight forward 32 step arpeggiator. There are several types of reverbs, including quite a few different plates that are ideal for the type of sound this library wants to achieve. Lastly, there is a Random button which changes out the sound sources.
As with any library developed for the full version of Kontakt, the user of the product will have to move the folders/files contained within the Snapshots folder to a designated place on their device. Remember, since this is a Kontakt 6 library, the snapshots, by default, should be moved to the Kontakt folder (not Kontakt 5). As there are 200 sound sources, there are 200 snapshots: that’s a lot. Up to the time of this review, I have, maybe checked out about 80 of them, with close attention and scrutiny placed on the “Keys”. Why, you ask? Well, I don’t usually bring up other products in a review but I did want to draw some comparisons to the Chernobyl piano library called Pripyat which, frankly, is one phenomenal work of nostalgic, off-kilter ghostly sounds that you’ll ever come across in a piano. While the keys section in Fission A, in and of itself, is not meant to be a piano played in the traditional sense, it just may be some of Jaap’s best “stuff” he has ever developed. My favorite, Hallucination, combines this broken toy piano over a drone-like dystopian universe which gave me shivers yet was surreally addictive. Other snapshots in this section would definitely feel at home in a John Cage composed horror film: edgy, discordant and full of tension. There is so much usable in just this section alone.
When you have a library which already has come very dense and intense sounds, you will want to be careful how “liberal” you want to utilize the effects section. This one is no different. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with one very loud and noisy sound which is not kind to your eardrums. What I do is simple…either I turn the volume down or put a limiter on the track. Additionally, on some of the snapshots, I recommend turning down the attack / decay and first create a “sparser” sound then utilize and sculpt with the effects. There are several typical ones to choose from (Lo-Fi, Skreamer, Flanger, Chorus, Imager (stereo spread) and Phasis) plus one not so typical, the Flair. For those not familiar with it, it creates flange layers where you can tune the harmonic intervals between those layers. You can also set the number of voices on those layers between 1 to 4 and determine the rate and pitch. I experimented a little with this getting some interesting sounds especially on slower rates placed on the overall sample.
And now for the B side of our platter sports fans!! While you can say Fission B is the twin sister of Fission A, you have to understand it is the twin in birth alone…but they are not identical. The Omnisphere version contains 100 presets culled from 118 sound sources which are amongst the same sources used in Fission A. However, utilizing the extensive modulating power of the host synth, Fission B, though complimentary, is not a horse of the same color. For those who have purchased Omnisphere libraries in the past from Jaap, the categories of patches are familiar with the strengths lying in the Textures / Pads / Keys and ARP category. What we have is a dark, bleak atmosphere with aggressive and, sometimes, in your face bass leads and pulses. Combined with Fission A, you have all the tools and sounds you’ll ever need in painting a landscape which is barren, desolate and looking somewhere, anywhere for a glimmer of hope.
One thing I like to do when I get an Omnisphere library to review (or play through) is to see how developers like to use the modulation capabilities of the host. I find Jaap has some definite “go to modulations”. He likes to use the Pitch Bend to accent the Aux Sends (frankly, since there aren’t really any leads here, you don’t really need the Pitch wheel to bend notes) and he likes to use Aftertouch to modulate the Depth of the Analog Vibrato FX. For those of you that don’t have a controller that is Aftertouch capable, you can always change the source. I tend to use a random setting which sometimes gives way to some interesting results. Other “tricks of the trade” is a heavy use of LFO and Mod Envelopes. Again, these settings can easily be changed to give you startling different results. Omnisphere has a total of 4 separate Mod Envelopes and a menu of different patterns from which to choose if you do not want to create your own. For this library, in the ARP/BPM section, all of the PULSE presets utilize LFOs and/or Mod Envelopes to produce the movement of the sound.
Another constant throughout much of the library is the use of Parametric EQ, Analog Vibrato and Pro Verb as common effects. As you can see, by the blue line on the AUX SEND slider and the blueish hue on the Depth of the Analog Vibrato, these are being modulated (as I pointed out in the Mod Matrix). The beauty of Omnisphere is that if you want to swap out these FX for something else, you can, and quite easily. In this kind of library, I also like to send some of the sounds through the dual convolver, Innerspace, or running the sound through one of the Radio Tube options inside the Thriftshop Speaker. The combination of the two tends to add that “bygone days” sound which accents the creepiness of the mood.
While it’s easy enough for me to sit back and write about the emotions and feelings that emanate from these libraries, I for one, would never wish a real life experience, like this, on anyone that those individuals from Pripyat and the surrounding areas, had to endure. It’s highly doubtful that a sense of “normalcy” will return to that area for generations to come. It is libraries like these that not only inspire the creativity buried within but inspire us to learn…to learn and understand that tragedies like this can be avoided and to, hopefully, not repeat horrors like this moving forward. A little heavy to close out a review? Maybe…but, then again, I was never accused of keeping my mouth shut when things needed to be said. Peace everyone and thank you, Jaap!!
Fission A for Kontakt 6 contains 200 sound sources and 200 patches and downloads as 4.71GB and requires the full version of Kontakt 6.2.1 or above.
Fission B for Omnisphere contains 118 sound sources and 100 presets and downloads as 894 MB and requires Omnisphere 2.6 or above.
Contributor Raymond D Ricker reviews Fission A and Fission B by Triple Spiral Audio
“To be blunt, you are not going to be composing the sequel to a feel-good Disney movie with this library. I think what fascinates me most, is the vintage dusty attic feel as if you were transported to a different, nostalgic time long ago where you get the sense of something familiar yet the sense of also being displaced.”