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Lamprey is an artist and producer, mainly focussing on creating rock, atmospheric or experimental tracks. Besides this, Lamprey is a Kontakt Instrument developer, creating simple and easy to use, great sounding instruments, with affordability being paramount. You may assume that, due to Lamprey’s rock background, that his instruments may be quite limited genre-wise, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Lamprey’s selection has something to offer for almost every genre, with most instruments being versatile enough to fit snugly into any production. So, without further ado, here are five of my favorite Lamprey Kontakt libraries.

Machine Tribes

Machine Tribes

Lamprey’s excellent Machine Tribes instrument is a futuristic, customisable percussive looper and one-shot generator that is an electronic glitch producer’s one-stop-shop for messy, gritty drum beats.

At the forefront of the instrument are three sliders; “Main”, “Perc” and “Glitch”, each of which control the gain of three separate layers of percussive sound. When automated, the potential of these parameters is almost infinite, allowing for great dynamic control over your drums — something that isn’t possible with traditional drum loop samples. Although, it is worth noting that the triple-gain control sliders only affect drum loops, not one-shot samples.

Machine Tribes also syncs with the tempo of your DAW, permitting for some, albeit limited, control over the playback speed of the loops; half, full, or double speed buttons are included. However the samples are ‘pre-bounced’ loops, instead of live sequenced samples. Consequently, this means that halving or doubling the loop speed stretches or shortens the sounds themselves, meaning original transients, and hence “punchiness”, is not preserved. You’d ultimately be better bouncing the loops into your DAW, then changing the playback speed of the sample, with a transient preservation mode enabled.

Additional effects parameters are also present in the instrument’s GUI; delay, “Trash” (distortion) and “Crush” (bitcrusher) all have their controls readily available, to help push the already lo-fi-esque glitch beats even closer to experimental heaven. Any experimental, electronic producer’s Kontakt library collection really isn’t complete without this gem.

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Atlas

Atlas is a melodic layering instrument whose standout feature is it’s unique, bright and extremely sonically pleasing array of sounds. Although typically requiring some tinkering with the effects knobs to pull out the desired sound, the results always excel once they get there. I am especially fond of the “Dirty Vinyl” sound — showcasing a gorgeous, soft, almost mallet-like electric piano sound that, once mixed with some delay and sizable reverb, creates a notably pretty and colourful layered chord creation tool. I also found the “Mod. Organ” sound to be unlike any other organ instrument or plugin I’ve experienced before; showing off an exceptionally tonally rich organ with a very fast release. “Mod. Organ” is fantastic at helping to fill up your “wall of sound” productions with thick chords, using their short release to stay out of the way of complicating your mix. 

The large central filter controls allow for great manual control over the movement, tone and overall character of the instrument, sounding great with some careful automation. Alternatively, the “Movement” dials control both a phaser and chorus, together. Despite sounding strange, having the chorus and phaser assigned to the same controls keeps them proportional to one another, making sure that phase problems don’t become an issue — an easy solution to an all too common, but often overlooked problem. 

However, it should be noted that the maximum and minimum values of the interface dials don’t match up with Kontakt’s dials, neither is there any indication of value shown, a milliseconds value for the delay time, for example. Meaning that there is much more freedom available, that can only be harnessed by navigating into edit mode and adjusting Kontakt’s parameters, accordingly. Nor do I particularly think that the filter controls need to be so large and centered in the GUI, as I don’t see myself reaching for them as often as I would say, an EQ, or even some of the other controls already on the GUI, like reverb or delay knobs. 

Despite the drawbacks in it’s GUI, Atlas is a perfectly competent production and inspiration machine — I had a lot of fun messing around with this one. For it’s price, it’s a great addition to the Kontakt library collection for producers of any level.

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Atlas
Serene

Serene

Uniquely, Serene isn’t just one instrument with multiple presets, rather, it’s a bundle of individual instruments, each of which giving off a similar feeling. In this case, as I’m sure is already blatant, it’s serenity. 

First up is “Ambient Piano”. Sounding like a nostalgic, felt, upright piano that has been begging to be tinkered with for years, “Ambient Piano” offers a thick, gentle, yet impactful sonic experience, unlike anything else Lamprey has to offer. It’s simple and intuitive interface only has a few controls; it’s genius “Octave” knob layers your piano playing with ambient, almost pad-like sounding undertones, one octave below, helping to flesh out your sound. The ratio of dry piano sound to lower octave sound can be controlled using the “Primary” and “Octave” knobs together — these can even be automated to either thicken or thinnen your piano sound as differing dynamic sections of your track are introduced. 

The resonance knob helps to shape the sound, adding a few brighter, saturation-like tones to the otherwise somewhat muted piano. The reverb and echo controls already have perfect parameters keyed in, meaning the one-knob approach can work seamlessly and simply. 

Serene’s “Calm Guitar” instrument is a great example of how versatile this library can be. Cranking the reverb up to near-max creates a sound that could easily pass as a synth pad — it’s that beautifully layered and dense. Whatsmore, that’s without even introducing the octave knob, which inherently adds pad-ish undertones to the mix. However, as expected, turn the reverb and octave knob off and you’re left with a wonderfully responsive nylon guitar. This instrument is more than capable of up-close and personal sounds, expansive atmospheres and everything in between. 

As can be seen with the “Calm Guitar” instrument, “Dream Harp” displays Serene's excellent use of layering, to create tangible, deep atmospheres that you almost feel like you could swim in. The intimacy of the base harp sample is juxtaposed with the looseness of the background reverby atmosphere, making a gorgeous, one-of-a kind composition. Again, introducing “Serene”’s signature “Octave” control thickens the layers even more — to a seemingly impossible level of tranquility.

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Blackout Vol. 2

Blackout Vol. 2 is an action movie scorer's dream. It’s sole purpose is to create grimey, tension-invoking arpeggiated bass synth patterns that are straight out of a James Bond film finale. “Blackout Vol. 2” is exponentially better than its predecessor and has been improved on in almost every aspect; where I found that the original “Blackout” instrument essentially required the distortion module to be activated, in order to create the desired cinematic effect, “Vol. 2” doesn’t require it in the slightest. I also found it’s interesting to automate the drive knob to slowly build even more tension than the instrument has already generated — something I’m sure you won’t even think is possible when you hear it’s dry sounds! 

Each MIDI key represents a different arpeggio pattern loop, however, they aren’t pitched in any way, consequently making it somewhat difficult to merge with other instruments. You also have limited freedom over the speed and rhythm of the arpeggio. The instrument syncs to the tempo of your DAW, then allows you to play the arpeggiated pattern at either full speed, half speed, or double speed, in the same way “Machine Tribes” does. Although I only found full and half speeds to be useful in most scenarios, double speed may be useful in projects with a particularly slow tempo — generally around 70bpm or below. 

Overall, by far my favourite effect to make use of in Blackout Vol. 2 was the filter cutoff knob — slowly increasing, then decreasing the knob from minimum to maximum helped “animate” the tension of the sound. Starting with a heartbeat-like background umph, then effortlessly blending into an aggressive, intense bassline, that made me feel as though I was sat in the middle of a cinema, despite being sat in front of my desk. It’s an incredibly powerful atmosphere creation tool.

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Blackout Vol. 2
Bloom

Bloom

In the same vein as “Serene”, Bloom is a two-in-one package containing two wildly versatile, genre-crossing keys and synth instruments — “Bloom” and “Flourish”. With flora-esque titles like that, you’d expect them to be impressively colourful, rich and bright; they don’t disappoint. 

The first of the two instruments, Bloom, is a soft, electronic, rhodes-ish piano, that sounds buttery smooth with some clean, summery jazz chords. The sound has both a crispy, twinkly top end, in the higher octaves, and a broad, heavy low end in lower octaves — a perfect combination for melodies and chords. The sound gives off an extremely somber but warm and comforting lo-fi kind of sound that is only intensified when a vibrato or wow/flutter plugin, along with some chorus and vinyl noise is applied. 

“Flourish” is almost the exact opposite of the otherworldly sound of Bloom. Instead, it’s a much more aggressive, but just as impressive, electronic synth sound — perfect for either hard electronic leads in an EDM track, or arpeggiated chords in a more chillwave or synth-pop style track. 

It’s just as well that “Flourish” is begging to be paired alongside an arpeggio pattern, as this library has one built directly into the interface. The arpeggiation module allows for control over the rhythm, velocity, note order, rate, duration and swing, along with multi-octave arpeggio integration controls. The convenience of having the arpeggiation module immediately available is fantastic, instead of having to load a MIDI effect plugin. On top of this, both Bloom and “Flourish” offer delay controls to pack the texture of the sound and simple reverb parameter controls, for added space. Without a doubt, Bloom, is the definition of versatility.

This article was written by Ross Castledine - September 2020

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