Murst Instruments is a new audio software company, created by Stu Sibley, composer and sound designer. The company’s mission is “to make tools that are inspiring and immediate, that blend acoustic and electronic sound sources with a flexible and intuitive approach.” I don’t know about you, but these words certainly resonate with my vision of what a music tool should be, so I couldn’t help but put two of their Kontakt libraries (Stone and Glass) through their paces.
Stone and Glass share a similar interface, minimalist yet extremely effective. The core is a 4*4 grid, with the 16 sound sources divided into 4 different thematic banks.
In Stone, the banks are made from deep analog basses, cello and organ recordings, processed pluck sounds, and noises. In Glass, the sources are analog basses and pads, acoustic strings and woodwinds, deep modular synths, granular swarm sounds, and field recordings.
These sound sources have been processed with boutique gear, from the Roland Space Echo and Uher tape machines to the Cooper FX Outward.
On the two sides of the grid, you’ll find standard controls such as volume, pan, attack, and release, while underneath the grid, there’s a filter, modulation, and effect section.
I really dig this interface. It strikes a great balance between form and function. It’s nice on the eyes, and everything is one click away. What more can I ask?
Stone and Glass are all about layering sounds and textures. While the sound sources are fine by themselves, they really come alive when interacting with each other.
Users have the choice of starting from an init patch or from the presets. Either way, you won’t go wrong. I would suggest starting from the init patch to get familiar with the different sound sources. Still, the well-crafted presets are also an easy way to dig into these libraries – and you can always use them as a starting point to further sculpt your sound.
Even better, if you happen to have an MPE controller such as the Roli Seaboard or the Sensel Morph, plug it in and enjoy the extra sound-shaping possibilities (Stone and Glass come with dedicated MPE presets, a nice bonus!). I greatly enjoyed using my Sensel Morph with Glass. This combination made for an inspiring and creative session. Worth knowing: not necessarily Glass/Kontakt-related, but on my good old Mac Mini, I ran into some audio glitches using the Sensel Morph via Bluetooth with Glass. No big deal, once I plugged it via USB cable, all the crackles went away, and I could enjoy all the MPE benefits.
Check out the following walkthrough videos to learn more about these libraries. The first one is dedicated to Stone:
And this one is about Glass:
More Than The Sum Of Their Parts
Stone and Glass are certainly more than the sum of their parts. Instruments and sample libraries with layered parts are nothing new. But unlike many products on the market – that feel just like the work of an engineer and therefore somehow unmusical – these libraries are clearly the outlet of a talented musician who also happens to be a developer. And it shows.
In a way, this also makes me think of our recent Felt Instruments Lekko review. I love seeing a new generation of musicians/developers, capable of creating very focused, organic sounding, leftfield instruments (and I should add, well-designed as well!)
Both Stone and Glass are very inspiring and usable libraries. Between the two, I probably liked Glass better. It might be the different sound sources and treatments – I have a thing for “the world of undulating and evolving looped textures” (as they put it). But again, with such a peculiar kind of instruments, it’s very subjective. And who knows, maybe for my next work, Stone’s textures might be a better match, so it’s worth it having both.
Conclusion: A Must-Buy?
Needless to say, products like Stone and Glass are not for the masses. Film/theater composers and experimental musicians/producers will probably love them – the developer mentions being inspired by the works of Tim Hecker, Curtis Roads, Max Richter, Ben Salisbury and Amon Tobin – while those looking for bread and butter sounds should… well, look elsewhere.
Personally, I’m really digging these libraries. They have something unique to them, they are reasonably priced, and most of all… they’re fun to play! Now that I’ve discovered them, I look forward to seeing what’s coming next from Murst Instruments.
Glass is £79, Stone is £49. To use them you will need Kontakt 6.2 and above, the FULL version not the Player version.
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