Review: The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished

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The Unfinished has released its fourth and final installment in the Nordsund Collection, “Dusk” for Zebra 2. This collection is made up of “Blood”, “Gold”, “Snow” and finally “Dusk”, which come together to create a scandi cinematic influenced extravaganza. Does the world need more scandi influenced sound-sets? When they are created by The Unfinished, goodness yes it certainly does.

Jump to the Videos of The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished

Jump to the Demos of The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished

 

Review: The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished

Whenever Matt Bowdler, aka The Unfinished releases a soundset, previous releases tell me it is going to be something special. As a primary Omnisphere user over recent years, I have found The Unfinished’s soundsets to work effortlessly within a number of genres and in different musical settings. Hands down, “Amara” is my most used soundset and this is also influenced by the drama shows of Europe. While warmer in tone, it still has links with the concept of Nordsund. Yet, across the 1,420 sounds contained within the Nordsund collection, it’s a much deeper, more dramatic and often times, hauntingly beautiful experience. While I say I use Omnisphere primarily, I have been looking forward to exploring the world of Zebra 2 and Dark Zebra. This is the great first soundset for me to hear the sonic capabilities of Zebra 2, with The Unfinished being the most enigmatic of hosts.

The Nordsund Collection for is available The Unfinished

Thoughts

The collection is split into four sections, “Blood”, “Gold”, “Snow” and “Dusk”. For the purpose of the review I will break down my thoughts of each soundset in regards to both Zebra 2 and Dark Zebra.

First, we begin fittingly where it all began with “Blood” which is a collection of 300 sounds created for the Danish TV Show “The Bridge”. I remember way back when watching this series in 2011 and loving the tense, taught yet melancholic atmosphere that the score provided. Years later it is interesting to now find the source of the sound design. Here you will find industrial elements, tense rhythmic and percussive patches with off kilter sequences thrown in. Everything you need to create an uneasy atmosphere or tension mounting cues. Yet, combined with this is the more subtle side of melancholy with superb pad and texture work. I have to say when playing through the sounds on offer, I found it incredible to go from the brooding intensity of the “Suicide” pulse to the haunting atmosphere of “Isolation”. In terms of film scoring, “Blood” will give you no shortage of ways to set the scene, all with a scandi, Nordic flair. I really urge you to check out the demos on The Unfinished website, or better still, watch “The Bridge” to hear it in action. I particularly enjoyed hearing the same sound but in the Dark Zebra form. Everything that is in the initial Zebra soundset goes murkier, more dramatic and wonderfully dark!

Moving on, we have “Gold” which follows on from “Blood” in a similar fashion. Whilst trying to capture the vibe of chilling locations, dastardly murders and detectives trying to crack the complex cases, each of the 300 sounds hits the mark in every respect. You’ll find, just like “Blood”, you can often score whole scenes with just a handful of instruments. A pad like “Aaland” perfectly sets the icy scene while keyboard instruments such as “Execube” and “Moonrise” are instant melodic atmosphere generators. You can almost feel the cold air surrounding you whilst playing these inspirational patches. Again, you’ll find a range of pads, soundscapes, leads, sequences, arpeggios and percussive elements to create tension, romance and everything in between.

Next we have “Snow” which contains 360 presets, designed to capture the chilling despair of endless fields of white snow, frost and of course, hideous man made situations. Here, some of my favourite sounds of the collection are to be found. The keyboard instrument, “Genre”, is quite possibly one of the most inspirational melodic instruments I’ve ever used. Instantly, it takes you to the vast snowy landscapes and inspiration for mysterious melodies come thick and fast. This is the genius of The Unfinished. There is not just a theme for his sound-sets, each sound is created with such creativity and mastery, they take the genre and extract every nuance contained within. This soundset is haunting, frosty, melancholic and unendingly scandi. Another highlight aside from the shimmering soundscapes and subtly pulsing basses was the percussion. The sequences are slightly less surprising and from a timbre perspective are almost like characters leaving their footsteps in the snow.

Finally, there is “Dusk”. As night falls, the dark provides cover for all sorts of antics. Again, this sound-set is rich in mystery, horror and is downright a pleasure to explore. Through 360 presets, you are treated to yet even more mystery, intrigue and with more of a suberbia feel. “Dusk” is a perfect compliment to “Snow” as it feels more people centric than what could be happening under cover of a blanket of snow! In all, I found myself completely lost when playing through the different timbres and imagining where these would fit in my next cue.

This collection can be described in one phrase as “utterly breath taking”. As a composer, it is so important to choose the right sounds for the job and the sheer range and depth contained within the Nordsund collection is incredible. Across the 1,420 presets, you’ll find everything ranging from melodic bliss and ethereal soundscapes to snarling industrial basses and pulsating percussion. It’s like all of the elements of scandi noir have been analysed, broken down and presented to us in one fantastic collection.

As a composer of scandi music and an overall fan of the genre, the Nordsund Collection has easily found it’s way into my template. Like the high quality Omnisphere soundsets that I have had the privilege to use in my day to day composing, Nordsund has given me a great introduction to what can be achieved in Zebra 2 and also endless inspiration for my upcoming cues. If you are a composer of the genre, for me this is a must have. If you want to expand your sonic palette, again, this is a must have. When you combine this with orchestral instruments, you have one powerhouse combination of a scoring tool. The complete Nordsund Collection is highly recommended and continues the legacy or incredible sound design that The Unfinished has established. I wouldn’t hesitate in picking it up today!

Facts

Contains 1,420 patches for Zebra 2 and Dark Zebra across four volumes

Best performance with Zebra 2.9

The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 is available from The Unfinished

 

Demos of The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished

Videos of The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished


Contributor Pete Checkley reviews The Nordsund Collection for Zebra 2 by The Unfinished
“The Unfinished has released their fourth and final instalment in the Nordsund Collection, “Dusk” for Zebra 2. This collection is made up of “Blood”, “Gold”, “Snow” and finally “Dusk”, which come together to create a scandi cinematic influenced extravaganza. Does the world need more scandi influenced sound-sets? When they are created by The Unfinished, goodness yes it certainly does.”