Review: Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

by

Fracture Sound’s Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics is by far my favorite of the pianos from Fracture Sounds. This is the combination of clarity and softness I have been looking for in a piano. The sound of the piano is just gorgeous, but when coupled with the atmospheric layers and controllable, intuitive interface, Glacier Keys becomes one dynamo of a piano.

Jump to the Videos of Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

Jump to the Demos of Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

 

Review: Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

Fracture Sounds are serious about piano sampling. Their Woodchester Piano and Midnight Grand are beautiful, playable instruments dripping with emotion and character. Their Dulciano and Arco libraries are also beautifully recorded and wonderfully unique piano libraries. They’ve even recorded a Toy Piano for crying out loud. However, I think Glacier Keys has eclipsed them all as my favorite Fracture Sounds library. This is the first piano library I’ve played that presents piano harmonics in such a way as to go beyond prepared piano techniques to create a beautiful, playable piano instrument.

Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics sells for $89.00 from Fracture Sounds

Thoughts

To say that I really like Glacier Keys would be a real understatement. I have reviewed three other piano libraries from Fracture Sounds (Woodchester Piano, Midnight Grand, and Dulciano) and have found them to be beautiful, emotional, and dripping with character. However, Glacier Keys has knocked my socks off!

There is a combination of clarity and gentleness within this library that is unmatched in my own collection of sampled pianos. While Woodchester Piano and Midnight Grand focused on presenting authentically sampled instruments, Glacier Keys brings what is normally considered a prepared piano technique (piano harmonics) into the world of playable pianos. I never knew I could love a piano library based on piano harmonics this much. I’m normally not a big fan of prepared pianos.

I mean, yes, they have their uses, but I just don’t get excited about them. Prepared pianos are normally something you can use to add some charm and character to a track, but they’re never the star of the show. Glacier Keys, on the other hand, is exactly that – the star of the show. It amazes me that this is a prepared piano, as it just feels so playable. When you couple these raw harmonic samples from a Steinway Model D concert grand piano with the three rich atmospheric layers (Glisten, Frost, Thaw) presented in the Fracture Sounds engine, a heart-breakingly beautiful sound emerges that is clear, yet gentle. I have a thing for soft/felt pianos. I love the raw emotion they bring into a track. However, I have found it difficult to make my felt pianos sit within a mix without sounding either muddy or without stripping their gentle, raw character away. Since playing with Glacier Keys, something unexpected has happened; I’ve found a piano that has so much of the character I’ve looked for within a soft piano while maintaining a clarity that can stand out in a mix without absolutely piercing it. The raw samples on their own are wonderful, but the Glisten, Frost, and Thaw layers allow you to mix in some other-worldy character that just takes Glacier Keys over the top for me.

The Glisten layer is a pad constructed from processed metallic instruments. True to its name, the Glisten layer shimmers with a beautiful, airy sustain. The Frost layer is a moving reversed granular texture that was created by processing the raw piano recordings. This layer is simply put, magical. I can imagine a ton of different applications for this single layer alone. The Thaw layer is another gentle pad that was created from electric guitar feedback, processed through multiple FX.

Each of these layers can be mixed to taste, or you can even use them all by themselves. In addition to the atmospheric layers, you can also mix in key releases, piano noise, resonance, and reverb. This can help you add just the right amount of authenticity to your piano sound. There are also three microphone positions that can be mixed to taste: Close, Mid, and Far. Each of these has its own control fader, but I especially like the “Perspective” control within the engine that allows you to simply move a slide from “Close” to “Far” to dial in the right microphone mix without the fuss of moving the individual sliders.

There are also Colour and Stereo Width controls to allow you to dial in the sound even more. Something I love that Fracture Sounds have now given us are presets! There are seven presets included in Glacier Keys that will give you an idea of the range of sounds you can get out of the easy-to-use engine. For those of you who already have Midnight Grand or Woodchester Piano, I would suggest experimenting with piano combinations. For instance, layering Glacier Keys on top of Midnight Grand can give you all the depth and richness of a Steinway D concert grand piano with the clarity that comes from the harmonics of the same. Suffice it to say – if you are looking for a gentle piano with bright clarity and beautiful atmospheres, you should be checking out Glacier Keys.

Facts

Glacier Keys runs in the free Kontakt Player (5.6.8+) and has full NKS support for Komplete Kontrol hardware. It downloads as 4.9 GB and includes 7 presets, 3 mic positions, and 3 atmospheric layers.

Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics sells for $89.00 from Fracture Sounds

 

Demos of Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

Videos of Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds

Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics by Fracture Sounds
“Fracture Sound’s Glacier Keys: Cinematic Piano Harmonics is by far my favorite of the pianos from Fracture Sounds. This is the combination of clarity and softness I have been looking for in a piano. The sound of the piano is just gorgeous, but when coupled with the atmospheric layers and controllable, intuitive interface, Glacier Keys becomes one dynamo of a piano.”