Review: New Basstard by 8Dio
The New Basstard is a showcase of everything you should not do to a refined orchestral instrument. This is the sound of taking a double bass and destroying it with a variety of bizarre techniques and tools. The result is a fascinating range of dark, dirty and mostly percussive samples for the composer who appreciates a touch of chaos.
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Review: New Basstard by 8Dio
Heavyweight sample developers 8Dio have been updating their older libraries to ‘New’ versions for a while now. Basstard is the most recent to benefit from the improvements, which centre around a very intuitive Kontakt engine and organising the sounds in a more effective manner. This library is truly a deconstructed double bass, as they have used everything from rubber mallets to power drills and even reassembled it to fully explore the more esoteric sounds that a very traditional, classical instrument can create.
The library is focussed around four categories of sounds – Tonal, Percussive, FX and Grooves. The Tonal section is the most normal and features 10 articulations that are all short and tuned. The multi-sampled nature of these patches enables a good degree of life to be injected into a midi performance. I particularly liked the Soft patch with its gentle, dubby sonics and slight sustain.
The FX Tonal category is home to a further 10 articulations that are mostly sustained. Now, if you ever wanted to hear what it sounds like swapping a bow for a baseball bat or a power drill, then this is the place for you! The samples here follow a current trend in string libraries to explore more gritty and experimental timbres full of harmonics, rattles and scrapes. A patch named To Death was my favourite – a very long sample where you can really hear the grating of the bowing tool and a bizarre pitch nuance towards the end.
The FX section is where 8Dio have literally reassembled the instrument and abused it. They were probably the last samples made as after creating them there was clearly no way back for this poor double bass. Across the 6 articulations is a multitude of bangs, squeaks, slides and some sounds that can only be described as what might emanate from a double bass in a torture dungeon! They would be especially great for horror and sound design. The related FX Metamorphose NKI expands upon this theme with similar nastiness, but pitched and sustained longer. I am excited to try to layer some of these under conventional pads and drones to add hints of menace and general dirt.
The Percussive selection is divided into brushed, rubber mallet and sticks. These are all non tonal and instead have a different sound on each key giving a total of 29 unique percussion sounds. Up to 10 round robins means they are superbly playable. I found that playing polyphonically and changing the notes makes for some incredibly complex patterns to be created with relative ease.
The Grooves NKI showcases a plethora of one bar or half bar rhythm phrases. These are tempo synced and were recorded at a range of core tempos from 80 BPM to 140 BPM, so they play excellently even when synced to an inbetween BPM. Somewhat strangely some of these loop while others do not.
The final folder contains 10 bonus presets. These are great starting points if you want to get your head around the variety of sounds this library can offer. They combine various patches and utilise the Kontakt engine heavily. Studying what they have done in these presets can really give you some fresh ideas for coming up with your own unique sounds.
This leads us neatly onto the GUI, which is the now familiar interface we are seeing across a range of 8Dio products. It gives the user the ability to combine various articulations with a degree of control over envelopes, panning, tone and distortion. The effects section provides reverb, delay, filters, a gate and more. Some of these are front faced (i.e.. on the main instrument panel), whilst an additional page gives further FX and access to configure the main ones in more detail. There is also a 4 band EQ. I cover the GUI in more detail in a previous review so please check this out for more in depth information.
In simply porting the regular 8Dio engine over however, some features lose some function when playing repeating percussive sequences. The filter and A/B LFOs always reset unless you hold a key down or play legato, which means that they simply do not function as designed for percussion programming. It would be useful to have a toggle that enables the LFO to be constantly cycling. I think the Basstard would also hugely benefit from having an arpeggiator or sequencer featured in the main interface. On some of the bonus patches it is used ‘under the hood’ to great effect, but unless you are a Kontakt power user you may well not know how to access it. An additional sequencer page as part of the standard new 8Dio interface would be most welcome.
The New Basstard will be of definite interest to composers and sound designers looking for something unusual to put in their compositions. The choice of double bass is a clever one because by using a standard orchestral instrument these interesting and sometimes bizarre sounds will still share a familiar tonality, therefore allowing it to sit very comfortably in a hybrid or purely orchestral mix.
Although we are talking double bass here it is worth highlighting that it has a strong percussive bias. That being said, many patches are still tonal which I personally like as it often results in more harmonically blended beats, where real drums or synthetic sources might be too overpowering or transient in nature. It would have been nice to have had more similarly bastardized longs as there are relatively few in this collection.
The New Basstard is by design quite a niche product, yet it is still varied enough to be useful across a range of styles and genres. It also almost goes without saying that all the samples have the high audio fidelity and editing you would expect from an 8Dio release. This destroyed double bass is really fun and easy to create with and will be something I personally reach for when I want to inject some dark and surprising sounds into my work.
The New Basstard requires 2 GB of space and requires the full version of Kontakt to run. There are 6 main patches which each containing a number of articulations in addition to a selection of curated bonus presets.