Gordian Plexus, a dark moody sound pack for Sensory Percussion
Gordian Plexus is a new sound pack, free for Sensory Percussion users. It’s a cold, dark, and complicated sound-world with grainy, saturated tonal and percussive sounds, doubled-up virtual acoustic drums, violin samples, garbled cassette effects, samples of dusty-wavetable synth tones, office sounds, and over 50 new kits that utilize new Sensory Percussion features and techniques.
Continue reading to learn about the recording process as well as the inner workings of the kits, and if you’re an SP user, you can grab it from the Sunhouse Downloads page.
The Recording Process
The first three folders (box of old analog sounds, Cassette Drums, and Cassette Synth Sounds) in Gordian Plexus were sourced by recording instrumental sounds onto cassettes — often with such a high amount of gain that it clipped the input to the cassette tape— and then recording the cassette back into the digital world, sometimes manipulating the speed of the cassette playback to distort the samples even further.
In folder, cold brew jug, there are sounds that we created by striking an upside-down-glass jug filled with various amounts of water. The jug has a particular kind of metal lid, so it sounds a little bit tabla-esq when the water swirls across the metal membrane after being struck.
The folders Double hat, Double snare, Double kick, and Double tom are what power many of the virtual acoustic drums and kits in this pack. One night we devised a recording session at Sunhouse HQ to record hits from the same type of drum at precisely the same time.
We close miked two hi-hats, two snare drums, two kick drums, and two toms, and then recorded them with pretty much the same method we use for all of our virtual acoustic kits: record each gesture (center, edge, damped, etc) at three velocity levels with five samples per each velocity level. Except this time we hit them simultaneously. Of course gestures like stick-shot and damped had to be recorded on each drum separately and then synced-up later, since they involve both of the drummer’s hands to produce.
The folder _office sound_s contains sounds mostly sourced from things we have around the office here at Sunhouse HQ. A can of grape soda, keyboard taps, and whiteboard markers, etc. But also our friendly office-extra-terrestrial (who lives inside a metal cabinet and handles a lot of our behind the scenes customer support) stepped up to the mic and recorded some of their natural vocal sounds and short songs in their native language.
The Senescent Symphonizer folder contains notes and sweeps from ten patches of a trusty synth a friend brought in one day. We found the sounds to be retro and delightful and they are featured in a number of the kits such as Plex Slag, Acedia, and Altocumulus.
Then one day we found a very old synthesizer with a noisy output. The synthesizer was extremely rudimentary, so we just recorded single notes of basic waveforms (sine, square, triangle, etc) and those sounds make up the sounds of the Synth Building Blocks folder. You can load up these sounds into the sampler and run them through Sensory Percussion effects to come up with interesting approximations of old wavetable synth patches. Virga, sYnth, FredXylo, spinWhistle, and dognap are examples of kits in Gordian Plexus that use this technique.
The violin sounds were recorded by Amy Atzmon in Michigan. We had her perform legato, vibrato, and pizzicato notes. In keeping with the aesthetic of the pack we then recorded the sounds of her violin onto cassette before recording them back into the computer. We included the clean samples, as well as the cassette-saturated ones in the pack.
Caldera is a pretty basic chord kit with some fun twists: Chords on drum 3 cycle and are toggle-pitched up/down an octave by striking the rim-tip of drum 1. There is a center-to-edge melody note overtop the chords on drum 3. Drum 2 is just a melody (notes are controlled by center-to-edge, but the whole drum is active so the rim is in play as well).
Abyss is also a chord kit, but this time the melody is on drum 3 and the chords are on drum 2. Notes on drum 3 cycle and are pitched with a center-to-edge controller. Striking the rim tip of drum 1 engages/disengages two of the samplers on drum 3 with higher notes.
Altocumulus has synth contrabassoon melodies on drums 2 and 3. Like the other melodic kits, there is center-to-edge pitch mapping, but velocity controls note length.
cobbledSky, Acedia, splinesta, dognap,virga, spinWhistle, sYnth, FredXylo
These kits each have a four-voice harmony mapped to drum 3 (playing from center-to-edge will change the notes, full velocity hits will play the full chord, while semi-velocity hits will only play one or two voices of the chord). Drum 2 of these kits is a melody, while Drum 1 and Drum 4 are snare and kick mappings, respectively.
This kit is essentially the Galactic Brine kit chill slag but with Gordian Plexus samples. To make this kit we used chill slag as a template, but erased all of the samples and added new ones. Also, there are chords on drum 3 of chill slag, but plex slag has just notes.
These are fully tonal kits: drums 1, 2, 3, & 4 are all pitched to scales on a center-to-edge. The samples cycle like sequencers, using a technique we discovered while producing the Black Cat sound pack. These kits are cousins to Black Cat’s Fractal, Euclidean Rhythm, and Lasko.
C&C Cassette, Mid Satch C&C, Full Satch C&C, doubleDrums
These are the virtual acoustic kits. The C&C kits are powered by the samples from our first virtual acoustic recording session: we recorded those samples onto a cassette and back with three gain settings. The first kit has very little cassette saturation, but the other two are overblown. doubleDrums is made up of the double drum recording described in the Recording Process section above.
Acute Radiation Syndrome, Grape Bureau, BLOWN OUT CASSETTE, blown out 2
These kits are fully percussive (okay, Acute Radiation Syndrome is sort of tonal, but not really). They all play like classic Sensory Percussion kits: lots of timbral, velocity, and speed control.
fourVoiceSynths1, fourVoiceSynths2, 4 voice symphonizer 1, 4 voice symphonizer 2, 4 voice symphonizer 3, Violin VL, Violin_cass VL
These are fully tonal voice leading kits. Each tone in these kits is governed by a center-to-edge controller.
Every single drum follows the same rules that drum 3s of: cobbledSky, Acedia, splinesta, dognap, virga, spinWhistle, sYnth, FredXylo follow. There is some duplicate material from those kits, but we included those duplicates so that users can easily find and drag and drop these tonal drums into new kits. These fully tonal voice leading kits sound good when they are played as a kit, but the single drum mappings are mostly meant to be dragged and dropped into new kits (to be combined with other sounds).
violin-pizzicato, violin-legato, violin-vibrato, violin cassette-pizzicato, violin cassette-legato, violin-vibrato, synthDulcimer, synthEnglishHorn, synthContrabassoon, synthSax, synthPennyWhistle, synthWoodwinds, synthGtr, selesta, sacrosanct, seraphin, synthXylo, steel, splectrum, spinet
These are single voice fully tonal kits. They include tonal material from the synth building blocks folder or from the Senescent Symphonizer folder. They are included for the same reason as the four voice kits: for easy access for our users to drag and drop them into new kits. They sound good as full kits, but can also be dragged-and-dropped as single drums into new kits that could use some melody.
Caldera_no tones, dognap_no tonesPetrichor_no tones, sastruga_no tones, virga_no tones, spinWhistle_no tones, Altocumulus_no tones, Acedia_no tones, splinesta_no tones, abyss_no tones, glassyBeach_no tones, FredXylo_no tones, Acute Radiation Syndrome_no tones
These are the no tones variations of the tonal kits in Gordian Plexus. They are the same drum 1 and drum 4 of the original versions, but drums 2 and 3 are either original or borrowed from other non-tonal kits in Gordian Plexus.