Review: Glass & Stone by Murst Instruments
Really well sampled instruments and sound sources
Clear GUI once you get used to it
Easy access to all controls and onboard effects
Presets are great starting points
MPE integration is a great feature
The GUI isn't for everyone although it does promote experimentation
The playable range of Stone is limited to only two octaves
Keeping up with the ever-evolving demands of cinematic and media composers, United Kingdom based developer Murst instruments have released two instruments for Kontakt: Glass and Stone. From “evolving looped phrases” to “layers of textual harmony” both are intriguing blending organic and synth sources and are just £39 each!
Jump to the Videos of Glass Stone by Murst Instruments
Jump to the Demos of Glass Stone by Murst Instruments
Review: Glass Stone by Murst Instruments
In simple terms, Glass is a loop/pulse maker with Stone being a pad machine. Both contain analogue synth sounds, basses, organic strings and various other instruments. For this reason, both libraries work exceptionally well together and can be seen as an all in one underscore scoring solution. Of course, you will not find playable legato orchestral instruments here nor agile melodic synths. But what you will find is a range of evolving loops and textures that can be manipulated, customised and controlled using MPE controllers such as a Roli Seaboard. For the purpose of this review I will look at each instrument in turn and use both a traditional MIDI controller and my Roli Seaboard for comparison.
Glass sells for £69, Stone sells for £39 from Murst Instruments
Glass is the evolving loop generator designed to give the modern composer a more unconventional and experimental scoring palette. With that in mind I loaded up the first of four instruments contained within Glass, called Glitch, and settled down to making some interesting sounds.
Firstly, the GUI pops out and is simple in design. In the centre are the 16 different sound sources of which four can be selected at any one time. At first I found it difficult to audition the sound sources on their own as there are always four selected. This is no hindrance though as you are encouraged to change each layer one by one to see what is available to you. Within minutes you are creating strange new sounds that are full of character. Upon exploration, to the left you have volume and panning controls so it is easy to hear each layer on it’s own and also create a stereo field. To the right of the sound sources there is the attack and release for each layer. Underneath are the various effect controls with high and low pass, saturation, phase and stereo being self-explanatory. There is also a room control which is a reverb and a blur which is a particle delay. There is an MPE button and that is everything within the GUI. The GUI is simple, classy but without referring to the Murst Instruments website, it could be rather confusing. I found my way using trial and error, yet I had to consult the website for the next part.
As mentioned, Glass is comprised of four separate instruments. Glitch is the more experimental with mangled instruments. Swell uses long evolving instruments and Tape explores analogue tape and delay processing. Finally, Resonance imitates and builds on resonant instruments. Each instrument is colour coded and are loaded in as multis in Kontakt. One instrument can be loaded at a time but there is nothing stopping you blending the different instruments using midi tracks. So how do they sound?
In my opinion, they sound exceptionally experimental, different, musical and emotive. As composers, we strive to look for instruments that can set us apart from the crowd and also create sounds effortlessly that would otherwise take hours of programming. There are subtleties, nuances and unexpected elements in each of these instruments and that is the beauty of Glass. Each time you use it, you may come up with something different. Glitch lives up to it’s name and sounds experimental and often dark, dramatic and full of tension. Resonance is full of a haunting beauty while Swell is full of destruction and fear. My favourite of the four is Tape which would not be out of place in a Philip Glass or Steve Reich score. Glass represents hours upon hours of experimenting to find some unusual and wonderful evolving loops. You could easily create an underscore using only Glass yet when combined with other libraries, Glass will give your cues unconventional motion and finesse. I have to admit, I got lost in a world of creation for several hours and Glass has certainly found it’s way into my underscore and avant-garde template.
The MPE functionality is simple to set up following instructions on the Murst Instrument Website. Without clicking into MPE mode, the instruments already respond to glide and slide. You can use the MPE functionality to then control pressure, velocity, filter cut off and of course glide. This adds to the expression of the instrument greatly and it opened up a whole new world of MPE based evolving loops. You can of course assign further midi cc values depending on how your MPE device is set up. In the spirit of experimentation, I also tried out my Touché with the Seaboard and it took Glass to a whole new level. Finally, each of the four instruments has 10 snapshots created by Murst Instruments. These are great starting points and help you learn the instrument in no time.
Stone on the other hand can be seen as the baby brother of Glass. It is a much smaller instrument yet has the same big potential. The GUI is virtually identical with the 16 sound sources now being represented by different shapes. Again, you can combine up to four of these and mangle them to your hearts content. This time though, it is a single instrument with two categories for presets. There are ten presets for conventional midi controllers and a further ten for MPE controllers. The sounds are again experimental and interesting with some being based upon motions or phrases and some as sweeping pads and soundscapes. I have to admit, I found the MPE patches far more creative, yet the traditional MIDI controller patches were also very fun and inspiring to use. With Stone, while the on-board effects are present, I felt the need to experiment with my own plugins to create some really vast and interesting soundscapes. I found a lot of inspiration in Stone and again I got lost in its sonic capabilities for hours.
At this point it is important to state that Stone is limited to two octaves.
While it’s not as restricting as it could be, I would love to see that expanded at a later date. Despite this, Stone has found it’s way into my workflow and I can potentially see a lot of uses for it.
Murst Instruments have created two different, inspirational and above all else, extremely fun instruments. You can lose hours to the sound design and keep on finding new sonic capabilities. Let’s be honest here, these are two very experimental instruments, yet they are capable of beauty and tension in equal measure. From ambient soundscapes to snarling rhythmical loops, Glass and Stone will certainly add flair and character to your underscore. I certainly do recommend both Stone and Glass and I am really looking forward to what Murst Instruments creates next. If you need versatile, experimental and quirky instruments for your productions, then I would buy these two in a heartbeat.
Glass downloads at 1.5 GB
Stone downloads at 331 MB
Glass contains 64 sound sources while Stone contains 16
Both are MPE compatible
Glass requires full Kontakt 6.3.1 or above
Stone requires full Kontakt 6.2 or above
Glass & Stone are available from Murst Instruments
Contributor Pete Checkley reviews Glass
Stone by Murst Instruments
“Keeping up with the ever-evolving demands of cinematic and media composers, United Kingdom-based developer Murst instruments have released two instruments for Kontakt, Glass and Stone, both are intriguing as they blend four layers of organic and synth sources and can be further manipulated with their on-board effects roster. If quick, beautiful sounding underscore is your thing, you will definitely want to check Murst instruments out.”