Geosonics by Soniccouture…it was on sale recently, half price through Native Instruments. I bought it without remembering much of what I knew about the instrument/library. It had been about a year since researching it. I just knew that it looked really interesting and that the presets were magnificent.
So, after buying it and playing around with a few presets to put together a droning new composition, I’ve started re-acquainting myself with what I now have. Maybe I should have done that before rushing in to make something (as though that would have radically changed the end product).
A brief comment on my initial experience…It took hours to download at 6 GB. Then, when I tried to play the instrument a message came up that it was created on a newer version and that I needed to download the latest version. I thought that referred to Geosonics. Wrong: Geosonics is a Kontakt instrument and it was Kontakt that was not up to date. Then I had some problem with the password when trying to activate the software, thinking I was logging in to Soniccouture when, in fact, I was activating it through Native Instruments. The final problem was that when I closed Kontakt and reopened it, the library was gone. I had to reinstall the library, which would again disappear. It was late on a Friday night, I was very tired, and I sent an email request for help to Soniccouture before searching any solutions. The next morning I explored the FAQs at Native Instruments and found that I needed to dig through a chain of folders until I found an xml file that needed to be deleted. Then the computer needed to be rebooted, Kontakt re-opened, and the Geosonics library added one last time. It’s been working since, and the smiles and deep sighs of pleasure have been accumulating. (When I did get to my email, after fixing the problem, I found a reply from Soniccouture with the same solution. They’ve already made a good impression on me by not only responding but doing so in a timely manner. If you’ve had to deal with online support you might have an idea of how rare that is.)
Geosonics is based on the field recordings of Chris Watson (once upon a time member of Cabaret Voltaire). These recordings unadorned are beautiful and inspiring and are part of the package (the fifth folder). There are four folders of presets of the recordings as manipulated by a selection of sound designers (Ian Boddy, Biomechanoid, Martin Walker, Andy Wheddon, among them…Soniccouture’s links for these names come back to the page you’re on; frustrating because it’s hard to find much info on any of them).
I really recommend watching the videos on the site. There are several of Chris Watson, which are a pleasure in themselves, detailing the stories behind the capture of some of the sounds (a residue of my childhood in the swamps of northern Minnesota, I can attest to the difficulty of doing anything when swarmed by mosquitos and other biting insects). There are also several instructional videos walking you through the sections of the Kontakt instrument ($179 seems a high price but after watching the videos you start to understand how much went into Geosonics and to how rich and flexible it is as an instrument).
The field recordings are of wind, wires (primarily, again, wind), water and ice, and swamps. And, so, there are four folders of presets. With the presets you can still access the original sound. Whether from an original sound or a preset you can still tweak until you’ve driven yourself crazy. There’s a fairly rich set of effects (delay, chorus, phaser, compressor, lo-fi, a button called “reverse”, and a host of reverbs ranging from conventional to IRs taken from Watson’s recordings). There are two effects busses. (Not immediately obvious to me, you click on the word (such as “reverb”…for instance, to toggle between the natural sound and the processed click on the word “focus” in the middle of the header…to change files click on “off” or the current name, just under just under “pitched 1” and “pitched 2”) to get a drop down menu. I saw this done in the videos but had to play around a little before I found the correct places to click.)
I would love to have the field recordings as WAV files so I could do my own kind of manipulation—mainly stretching, reversing, and pitch shifting—which leads to less musical results. Still, that’s such a small complaint and, if I really wanted, something that could probably be satisfied by other sample libraries.
The field recordings lend themselves to usage as pads and drones and most of the presets reflect this. You can make rhythmic and melodic instruments but, as stated, they work best for long, evolving sounds. Gorgeous sounds. I’m happy.