Percussion Swarm Review – Textural Percussions From Spitfire Audio


This Spitfire Audio library is a partner with the other Swarm libraries, (mandolin, harp, marimba, and orchestral). They are primarily textural libraries, creating long, slow, pointillistic pad-type textures, and this one is no exception.

It’s a big old library of almost 60gb of quality percussion samples recorded at Air Studios. I’m not sure how many percussionists were hired for the gig, but it looks like they recorded three at once, and they drew from a stable of experts in the field, with decades of film/tv sessions between them.

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A simple alphabet list of instruments pops up in your Kontakt browser when you open the library. The selection is mainly tuned percussion from your western orchestral tuned percussion (Glock, Xylophone, Marimba), through other cultures (Kalimba, Angklung) to more contemporary tuned percussive sounds (glass glockenspiels and handbell carousel). The element that gives this library a unique take on percussive sound, is the techniques the players used to record the sounds. With the years of experience sessioning film music, they know some unusual methods to create ear-catching timbres. They applied some of these to the library to great effect. A plethora of different sticks, soft, hard, short, metal, wood, Also bows and fingers all add up to some great patches. There are some untuned hand percussion patches in there, to complement the tuned instruments.

Within each instrument is a smattering of articulations set up in the usual Spitfire Orchestral GUI template. They represent three different overarching’ styles’ of articulation – each instrument having varying versions of the style with various techniques used depending on the instrument. The three overall styles are – ‘Cloud,” Swarm’ and’ Short’. Cloud is an arrhythmic pointillistic repetition of the played notes. Swarm is slightly less pointillistic, and with a clear swell to the sound. Short is, as you guessed, short single hits, somewhat loosely hit between the three players.

There is a fourth sonic option in the library, which is based on their Mercury synth engine, and takes the original samples and processes them digitally into more electronic sounds with organic elements. Some lovely granular pads and drawn-out drum sounds in this folder. I love the hybrid blend of acoustic and digital, and pads like these bring so much life to electronic music.

There is a deep stereo image and depth component to this library, with a TON of different mic positions. Plus, there’s a close panning folder, which gives each instrument further mix placement options, where you can zoom up close to one of the original players and have their particular playing style be upfront in the mix.

The sounds are as ever, gorgeously recorded by Spitfire’s team. Couldn’t find any issues in this library. Quite a few of the articulations are quite quiet – some of them are fingers drumming on a surface. I was pleased to hear no noise level in these recordings, and you can turn them up quite a way with no issues.

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Conclusion

This is a great little library, and, with its fairly calm overall demeanour, it is a good contrasting companion for something like the epic Hans Zimmer Percussion library. Swarm percussion focuses on tuned percussion, but there are some unique untuned drums in there too. There are a lot of chimes, bells, metals, and tonal woods from all different cultures from standard western orchestral instruments such as glockenspiels, marimbas, xylophones, to the more exotic kalimbas, Angklungs, Damarus, Rammanas.

The tonal and timbral range in this library is impressive. The instrumentation combined with the playing techniques make for unusual sounds that stick out to the ear. The combination of instruments and technique make for very organic sounding textures. For someone wanting ear-catching textures this library is well worth the look.

Percussion Swarm is available for $349 and more info here.


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