Review: Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished

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Are you tired of the same old synth sounds and presets? With Zebra Arkhangel, The Unfinished will shake your tracks up with some of the weirdest and most wonderfully warped sounds you can imagine for Zebra2 and ZebraHZ.

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Jump to the Demos of Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished

 

Review: Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished

Completely out of left field, The Unfinished takes Zebra2 and ZebraHZ into strange and uncharted sonic territory with Zebra Arkhangel. This is truly one of the most unique soundsets I have ever heard. While you might not use these sounds every day, when you do, they are sure to make your track stand out from the pack. Another stellar set of exotic sounds from one of the best sound designers around.

Zebra Arkhangel Zebra2

Zebra Arkhangel sells for £34.99 from The Unfinished

Thoughts

I love adding new sounds to my hard drive, but I’m not normally drawn to sound sets that would be described as “abstract” or “unpredictable.” However, once again, The Unfinished has broken the mold, and with it, my preconditioned notion of what these words can mean. Zebra Arkhangel is a fresh and enigmatic assortment of 360 of the most unusual and unconventional sounds I have yet heard for Zebra2 and ZebraHZ (180 each for Zebra2 and ZebraHZ). The same patches are presented in both Zebra2 and ZebraHZ, but as per The Unfinished’s usual Zebra approach, each patch varies (some slightly/some greatly) between these synths. Zebra Arkhangel is available for Zebra 2 alone, or you can purchase the Dark Edition to receive both sets of patches (Zebra2/ZebraHZ). With only a £10 difference in price, Dark Edition represents the best value and will provide you with lots of tonal variation and opportunity to layer the same patch between synths.

Zebra Arkhangel is comprised of 12 patch categories: Arps, Basslines, Basses, Drum, Keys, Leads, Loops, Mallets, Pads, Sequences, Soundscapes, and Synths.

Things get off to an arresting and irregular start with the Arps. From glassy plucks and mallets to evolving synth beeps and detuned sequences, there is a lot of subtle coolness under the hood here. You can completely mangle these sounds via the modwheel and change their vibe (and rhythm) significantly. There are subtle differences between Zebra2 and ZebraHZ here, but the differences are there and are significant enough to make you want to explore both. As with much of this sound set, you can add a lot of depth and richness to these sounds by layering a patch from Zebra2 with its counterpart in ZebraHZ.

Dark, brooding, gritty, industrial bass lines are aplenty here. So many of these are synthetic and growling, while some are just plain mean. Several of these patches are just begging to be placed into the score for an adventure thriller. Again, the modwheel mangles and changes the timing of a number of these sounds in Zebra2 but has a more subtle use in ZebraHZ. In ZebraHZ, these patches tend to maintain the same timing and rhythm while altering the speed of the repetition, etc. Some of these sounds are great when layered between Zebra2 and ZebraHZ, but beware that doing so can, at times, result in a hard hit to the CPU.

The basses are much like the bass lines – dark, gritty, brooding, and industrial. These are growling, angry sounds that will add grit and a thick bottom end to your industrial cinematic tracks. The star of the show for me is a sound entitled “Effervescent”, described as a “smooth, gritty, filtered, atmospheric bass smear.” There is a lot of variance between this patch from Zebra2 to ZebraHZ, but in both editions it is snarling and big in the best kind of way.

The keys are a cross between dreamy (think scary dreamy), distorted, and disturbing. These are lo-fi, analog sounding keys that are perfect for adding a disquieting element to your track. Again, some variance exists here between Zebra2 and ZebraHZ, so experimentation is the name of the game.

The leads in Zebra Arkhangel are detuned, dusty, old, analogy, and unsettling. These vary from distorted and gritty to bell-like and the broken music box sound entitled “What If.” These would fit nicely into a horror film or anything in which you want to create a sort of unrest or uneasiness in the listener.

Far from your average looped percussion, Zebra Arkhangel offers percussion loops beyond the standard fare. These loops are in time signatures like 5/4 and 6/8 and have unusual clicks and distorted sounds within. These patches could easily find a home in a crime drama or anywhere you want to lead the audience to sweat on the edge of their seats.

The mallets patches are synthy and unique. These are great melodic instruments that can add spice and an unexpected element to your tracks. These patches are a good way to carry a melody when you need a departure from the normal lead or keys sounds audiences have grown accustomed to.

Zebra Arkhangel ZebraHZ

When it comes to pads, The Unfinished always has something special up his sleeve. As with many of these sounds, it’s difficult to even describe these pads. However, two words immediately come to mind: weird and wonderful. These are not your average ethereal or analog pads. Rather, these pads cover strange, evolving, distorted, gritty, detuned, analog, and just about every other strange combination of territory you can think of. Normally, I would probably be turned off by someone describing pads as “weird” or “warped”, but these pads are just fantastic. These are unlike other pads I have heard, and I can’t wait to use them in a score or track. I personally use Zebra2’s color-coding system to rate every sound I preview, and I gave a bunch of these the highest mark I could give (for me that happens to be green – your color of choice may vary). I only wish ZebraHZ came with a similar tiered-rating system, but I digress. These pads are just stellar!

The soundscapes begin with a patch entitled “Annoying Facebook Group” and end with “You So Ugly”, a patch described in this way – “Like listening to a boring wasp talking about its boring holidays…” To this, I can only say “LOL!” This might just tell you everything you need to know here. A hodge-podge of epic strangeness, these soundscapes are unusual in a wonderful way. If you are looking for sound beds to use in building a sense of unease in your audience, then look no further.

Continuing the weird and wonderful theme, here come the sequences. These are offbeat, wild sequenced patterns that can be used to great effect in creating a sense of unsettledness in your audience. These sounds can go from very understated and mellow to brash and in your face with a simple flick of the modwheel. There are so many cool sequences here.

There are only a couple of synths in both Zebra2 and ZebraHZ. One is an atonal synth pad, while the other is a lo-fi, metallic synth pulse.

Zebra Arkhangel will bring you to the land of oddity and strangeness and make you never want to return to your normal toolkit. This sound set makes me want to go open my DAW and begin scoring a thriller or a track in which I can create beauty and disquiet at the same time. If you only write commercial library music using standard instrumentation, this might not be the sound set for you. However, if you score to picture or like introducing unusual elements into your tracks, this is a fantastic set of sounds.

Facts

Zebra Arkhangel contains 180 patches each for Zebra2 and ZebraHZ. You can purchase Zebra Arkhangel for Zebra2 alone for £24.99 or for both Zebra2 and ZebraHZ (Dark Zebra Edition) for £34.99.

Zebra Arkhangel sells for £34.99 from The Unfinished

 

Demos of Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished

Videos of Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished

 

Contributor Raborn Johnson reviews Zebra Arkhangel by The Unfinished
“Are you tired of the same old synth sounds and presets? With Zebra Arkhangel, The Unfinished will shake your tracks up with some of the weirdest and most wonderfully warped sounds you can imagine for Zebra2 and ZebraHZ.”