Dreamtropolis Sound Pack
Welcome to Dreamtropolis, a city of sounds!
With 28 original Sensory Percussion kits and 3,310 raw samples, Dreamtropolis is our largest sound pack release yet, and it’s overflowing with auditory joy and mystery. The pack takes inspiration from Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel Invisible Cities. It is rich with chords, tones, and loops, containing the sounds of bass guitars, electric pianos, classical guitar, and more. Dreamtropolis also includes an immense and unique collection of one-shot hits from drum machines, acoustic drums, cymbals and other found-sound-percussive-objects.
The pack contains sounds of:
- Four bass guitars
- A layered dreamy strings patch
- Hits from eight original drum machines
- Two short loops at 74 BPM (including stems for both loops)
- A dreary piano: a ten chord progression and individual notes
- Nine electric pianos: including chord progressions, and notes recorded at various velocities
- A classical guitar: a chord progression and notes with up to nine different strum articulations recorded for each chord
- Acoustic percussion played with soft-mallets
- Field recordings of percussive sounds from New York City, as well as found sounds from an indoor construction site
- Many more bizarre sounds for you to discover in Dreamtropolis
The Dreamtropolis Kits
The first thirteen kits are tonal, and the last fifteen are strictly percussive. Additionally, we have included non-tonal variations of all of the tonal kits, plus a “no-words” version of a kit called Space Time, which contains robotic vocal sounds. So there is a total of 42 kits included in this pack, but only 28 of them are completely unique.
The satisfying hum of the kick holds down the foundation of Zirma, named for a city of memory in Calvino’s book. The bass guitar and marimba, mapped to Drums 3 and 2, use a very slow LFO to switch between a C Hungarian Minor scale and a G blues nonatonic scale.
Random LFOs control which portions of stems get looped on samplers in Perinthia. Named for a young town in Invisible Cities, Perinthia suffers from a bizarre astrological mishap causing children born there to have severe defects.
Distorted, phasey bass guitar sounds emanate from Drum 3, and twisted bells from Drum 2.
The electric piano notes cycled on Drum 2 drone on D, which creates a dreamy kind of feeling as the chords cycling on Drum 3 are mostly in Eb Major — however, play the edge of Drum 3 to reliably trigger a D major chord.
In the novel, the citizens of Eusapia have constructed an identical city underground. The underground city is for the corpses of dead citizens who are posed in idealized reenactments of their past life. In the Sensory Percussion kit named Eusapia there is a dreamy strings progression with a nostalgic vibe. Striking the rim tip of Drum 1 resets the strings’ chord progression on Drum 3.
The city of Andria was created to mirror astrological phenomena — the ratios between streets and buildings reflect the ratios between planets and stars. The city is so in sync with the universe that when the citizens add new structures to their city astronomers look into the skies and find that the universe has changed to reflect the new features.
In the Sensory Percussion kit there are pizzicato chords mapped and cycled on Drum 3. Drum 2 is a glitchy hi-hat.
Similarly to the Zirma kit, Beersheba is controlled by a network of LFOs and buttons activated by your playing. In Beersheba, the electric piano and bass guitar sounds mapped to Drums 2 and 3 morph between randomized notes in C aeolian and C dorian modes. But if you strike the rim tip of Drum 4 — then the scales start morphing between A phrygian and C lydian.
This kit is tricky, but satisfying to play and it demonstrates some of the more interesting structural capabilities of Sensory Percussion.
Check out the samplers on the center pad of Drum 3! The top four samplers’ input is controlled by the rim tips of all four drums: strike the rim tip of Drum 1 to turn on the first sampler and shut off the other three samplers. Drum 2 turns on the second sampler and turns off the other three samplers, and so on.
Each of those four samplers contains a chain of electric keyboard or nylon-string guitar chords. Activating the center pad of Drum 2 will advance to the next chord in each of the samplers. Playing a stick-shot on Drum 2 will reset the samplers to their first chord.
Eudoxia is a completely chaotic and confusing city in Invisible Cities whose true harmonious order is only revealed when you gaze upon a special carpet.
The Sensory Percussion kit is also a complex tapestry of chaotic yet harmonious rules. Drum 2 has a single pad activated with four samplers: the first two samplers are panned left and right and they contain three different octaves of a C note quantized to a blues scale governed by a center-to-edge controller.
The order of notes is controlled by different shapes and speeds of LFOs, meaning that there is an internal rhythm choosing which octave note will be played when you strike the drum.
Complicating things further, there are two more samplers on this drum with similar rules, but the scale is transposed up a minor third. A square wave LFO is assigned to the volume knob of all four samplers and set so that just the top two or the bottom two samplers are sounding at the same time — that means that there will never be dissonant scales sounding at the same time.
The result of this complex network of rules is the chaotic yet harmonious soundscape you create when you play Eudoxia.
The kit, Leandra, demonstrates another way to create structure within your Sensory Percussion kits. Striking the center of Drum 3 firmly will activate a chord in a cycled progression, use the edge of the same drum to toggle to a new sampler where the same chords have been modulated up an octave. Striking the edge again will toggle back to the lower chords.
Thick soundscapes of marimba, acoustic guitar and piano notes emanate from Drums 2 and 3 of this kit. When designing this kit it began to feel like I was roaming through a glass jungle of sounds, especially since the snare sounds (mapped to Drum 1) are layered over randomized glass sounds from the Elements pack and the kick (on Drum 4) is a pitched down coconut sample from that same pack.
I am sometimes awoken abruptly from a dream shortly after falling asleep — it’s a very human phenomenon, I think: that feeling of a sharp fall and then bursting awake only to drift back asleep a few moments later. This kit is named after that feeling.
Stems of both of the 74 BPM loops are featured prominently in dreamJolt. Drums 2 and 3 of this kit contain the stacks of loop stems. Predictable LFO waves control not only which stem in the stack gets played back when you strike the drum, but also which short chunk of the stem is released into the soundscape. Randomized LFOs turn loops of the small chunks of stems on and off.
Like dreamJolt, there is a ghost in the machine of journeyTravels — loops, scale degree, panning, and phaser chamber send level are randomized with LFOs.
The electric piano sounds mapped across Drums 2 and 3 are velocity sensitive, playing softly will produce a softly recorded articulation of the electric piano, playing firmly will activate the pleasing harmonic distortion that electric pianos are known for when you firmly strike the keys.
Calvino describes Isidora as a paradoxical city of desires both beautiful and violent — dreamed of in his youth when such technological advancement was impossible, but now still unattainable when the narrator arrives at the city in his old age to be relegated to the outskirts of the city square able only to watch the young people live out his desires. Calvino claims: “desires are already memories” when you arrive at Isidora.
In the Sensory kit named for this city, the sliding melody on Drum 2 is controlled by a center to edge timbre controller. On Drum 3, the electric piano chords are cycled with each hit above a set velocity threshold.
Getro Man is simply what I believe basic drums will sound like when the bots inevitably obtain sentience and start making instruments themselves. The kit contains sounds from a synth I sampled in my dreams — when I awoke the next morning the sounds were already processed and ready to load into Sensory, so I used them to build this kit.
In a survey a few months ago we asked Sensory users what they wanted to see in future kits and samples released by Sunhouse. You folks are incredibly diverse in your sonic tastes so we received answers ranging from “Freaky Shit!!” to “More Normal Sounds.” Octavia definitely falls into the “Freaky Shit!!” category. This kit is comprised mostly of dubbed out field recordings, but there are a few live percussion elements scattered throughout: mostly on the less accessible gestures like stickshot and damped edge.
The sample material of this kit is all from the “Soft Mallet Drums” folder which is a box of 464 sounds recorded by striking percussive objects with a soft mallet. The kick and the snare (Drums 4 and 1) are pretty straight-forward Sensory mappings. But Drums 2 and 3 have soft mallet bongo and dhol sounds, pitched with center-to-edge controllers, and also loops are turned on with a random LFO.
On the “Freaky Shit!!” to “More Normal Sounds” spectrum, I think Hypatia is more in the “normal” category. The sounds mostly come from the Hypno Plaza drum machine folder, and the Sensory mapping is such to allow you to lay down a down-home-funky-electro-groove with no trouble.
This kit is an orphan of the Swarm Sapience Pack and Base Pack, roaming the streets of Dreamtropolis. This kit doesn’t actuall yuse any sounds from the massive Dreamtropolis folder, but does use many of the Sensory techniques in other Dreamtropolis kits, such as random LFO looping.
In this kit you can use the rim tips of all four drums to toggle between the samplers mapped to the center of Drum 3. Strike the rim tip of Drum 1 to turn the head of Drum 3 into a pitchy-stereophonic-clay-drum-sound-world. Hit the rim tip of Drum 2 to toggle on Drum 3’s tight hi-hat. Striking the rim tip of Drum 3 changes the head of that drum into a percussive cycle of drum set sounds. And finally striking the rim of Drum 4 switches the head of Drum 3 into a realm of random percussive classical guitar body and string sounds.
Lilith is a mythical being in Jewish Mythology — a strong female figure who is feared and rumored to devour babies. Like the mythological Lilith, this kit is strong, female and calls for a solid groove. Hide your babies.
I met a robot not too long ago, and I recorded her saying a bunch of appealing words and phrases. She didn’t pass the Turing test, but I did get her to say: “Very tall kangaroos, one with a mane like a lion, walking politely down the street with their handlers” — which is a summary of a dream I had. In that dream the kangaroos were as massive and as tall as giraffes: they were absolutely terrifying, but I was not afraid because of their breath-taking majesty.
That sentence and the cool words are all chopped up and included in a folder called “roboVox.” The cool words are featured in this kit on Drum 3.
tranceContraption is named after a drum machine I recorded. Like Hypatia, it is a pretty standard Sensory kit mapping — nothing too fancy, but here to help you lay down something dope on your next hit song.
Here’s another mostly standard kit. There is a virtual acoustic snare and kick mapped to Drums 1 and 4: the snare has been sampled with big fat broom drumsticks. Drum 3 is a virtual acoustic conga sampled with a plastic mallet. Drum 2 is where it gets freaky: check out those hi-hat samplers — there’s a lot of crazy LFO stuff going on!
Comprised of various drum-machine sounds and go-to Sensory mappings precious perc also makes use of a technique that I frequently use to thicken the sounds of my kits: I arm a send track with heavy, swampy compression (low threshold, high ratio, slow release) and then I put an EQ (with the mids sucked out of it) after that compression in the effects chain. Finally I send my Sensory channels (especially my kick and snare sounds) to those effects, sometimes controlling the send amount with velocity.
One thing I love to do is drag hundreds of similar sounds into a Sensory Percussion kit and then cycle them in some way. That’s what’s going on in Drum 3 of this kit.
One day recently, Tlacael and I went to an indoor construction site near Sunhouse HQ and recorded 113 percussive sounds from around the room. After editing them, I dropped every single one into a sampler and set it to cycle.
Then I duplicated that sampler, panned the two samplers left and right, and changed the method of cycling on one of the samplers to a random LFO. I then dragged different random LFOs to the pitch parameter of both samplers, and modulated the time knob of a delay on the center pad — where everything was mapped.
Have fun with this one!
Short delays and Chorus effects with a lot of feedback are a blast! Even though this kit makes use of those trippy effects pretty heavily, they are dialed in pretty tight. And that makes this kit feel surprisingly organic, even though there are cycled electronic sounds on the toms and the kick mapping is a modded out drum machine sub.
In Invisible Cities, Thekla is a city that is constantly and completely under construction because the citizens fear that if they stop building it will cause the city and the entire universe to collapse around them.
And now I challenge you to keep building on top of this foundational Dreamtropolis kit and never stop!
You are welcome to wander into this electronic swamp, just don’t get lost! Drum 1 is an electronic snare mapping to help you cut through the murky sounds of the other three drums. Drums 2, 3, and 4 have just one sample mapped to each, but rely on timbre and velocity controllers and LFOs to modulate those dark gloomy sounds and effects.