New Sound Pack: Lunar Cities
A completely tonal soundpack free for Sensory Percussion users
Lunar Cities is a collective of eight tonal sister-soundworlds within the Sunhouse library. A collaboration with Eliot Krimsky, the pack includes 1,060 completely tonal sounds, 16 original kits, and an additional 10 utilitarian kits designed for their component parts to be dragged and dropped into new kits.
If you're a Sensory Percussion user, head over to the Sunhouse Downloads page to grab the pack.
The Recording Process
In Early November 2018 Eliot came to Sunhouse HQ to record Lunar Cities. He said of the process:
For the session I improvised pieces on my Prophet 6 and OP-1. I tried to play as if I was making up fully formed songs on the spot. This process is both exciting and scary, because you never know where you’re going! It was this kind of spontaneity that we were hoping to capture for Lunar Cities. The hope is to give users genuine moments of exploration that they can shape into their own.
When we asked him about what inspires his harmonic, timbral, and rhytmic approach to music and how that informs his approach to recording the pack, he replied:
When I discovered Stevie Wonder I learned that harmony can open up doors to new and uncharted lands. To this day when I create harmonies I stay inspired to let them take me somewhere I’ve never been before emotionally. Rhymically I love treating the piano or synth like a drum, I strive to take the instrument beyond what's expected of it. I am fascinated by the idea that the sonic quality of something can evoke so many things — from cheesy 80’s TV, to modern hip hop, to the sounds of ancient caves. When I look for a sound I try to stay open, I find inspiration in how the discovery of a new sound can change the feeling of the track. The power in Sensory Percussion lies in how it’s user can transform the medium into their own voice. When I recorded this pack to I tried to incorporate all of my own inspirations and stay connected to my heart. I’m looking forward to hearing how everyone uses these sounds as a jumping point for their own expression.
In the following weeks we added more layers to the performance by running Eliot’s recorded MIDI tracks through other synths and processing the audio with various effects - often running it through cassette tapes and guitar pedals. We then chopped up our favorite sections from both the full mix and the stems.
The sounds were designed and edited with Sensory Percussion kits and techniques in mind. The pack debuts a new technique we call “micro-chopping”: Tiny transient sounds of sections of performances were chopped and cycled inside samplers within the presets so that you can play your own version of the performance simply by striking a drum repeatedly.
Eliot Krimsky is a Brooklyn-based composer songwriter and producer whose work is often defined by big ambience, unique keyboard playing and empathetic vocals. Following a degree from New England Conservatory in 2001, Krimsky went on to form indie bands Flying in 2005 then Glass Ghost along with Dirty Projectors' drummer Mike Johnson in 2009. His new solo album Wave in Time features his distinctive falsetto voice—alongside sprawling, cinematic ambience and incisive, hook-heavy electronic pop—singing of fear, despair, humanity, and hope.
Over the past decade Krimsky has collaborated with many notable artists including Meshell Ndegeocello, Here We Go Magic, Robert Stillman, Sharon Van Etten, Deerhoof, Travis Laplante, Sheerwater and choreographer Beth Gill. Krimsky is a recipient of Performance New York's RAMP grant / residency (2015), Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts residency (2016) w/ Open House, and BAM Next Wave residency and performance w/ Open House. His film music can be heard on Netflix, Amazon, PBS and HBO.
The samples we recorded are organized into subfolders:
Contains chops from an improvised performance.
Contains microchops, and chops from a performance, as well as notes and chords from the instrument used in the performance.
Contains chops from an improvised performance.
Contains microchops, and chops from an improvised performance, as well as notes from the various instruments used in the performance.
Contains chops and microchops from an improvised performance.
Contains notes and chords performed on various instruments.
Contains notes and chords, and chops performed on various instruments.
Contains chops and chords from an improvised performance
The kit gets its name from the bubbly notes and chords mapped to Drums 2 and 3. The notes cycle and are quantized to a simple scale (only roots and 5ths) on center-to-edge controllers. The chords only activate if you strike those drums hard.
This is the Tahawus kit from the Ganzfeld Effect soundpack, but with Lunar Cities’ Selenium Heights chords thresholded and cycled on Drum 3.
This kit gets it’s chords from the Prismtopia folder in Lunar Cities. The sixteen measure progression is mapped to the head of Drum 3. The snare, hi-hat, and kick - mapped to Drums 1, 2, and 4, respectively - are designed to have a classic Sensory Percussion dynamic response.
The velocity thresholded chord progression mapped to Drum 3 is the woodwind section from the Nectaris folder. The percussive sounds on this kit - like most of the kits in Lunar Cities - are from Swarm Sapience.
Drums 1, 2, and 3 of his kit make use of the microchop technique outlined above. Each tonal fragment is cycled with each of your hits. On top of that, center-to-edge, velocity, and speed controllers modulate subtle filter, EQ, and other effects on each drum.
Tonal chops from the Prismtopia performance are mapped and randomized on Drums 2 and 3 of this kit. A random LFO controls the pan knobs of those drum channels, as well. The LFO is set so that it will always pan the drums opposite each other, so the sounds mapped to those drums will mirror each other positionally in space.
This kit relies on tonal chops from the Atlas performance. Drums 2 and 3 cycle the chops which are passed through oil-can delays and layered with some percussive sounds from Swarm Sapience.
Drums 2 and 3 of troubleBubble are powered by the microchops in the Bubble Wave folder. You can strike the rim-tip of Drum 4 to toggle the sampler groups on Drums 2 and 3.
All four drums in this kit are comprised of the cycling microchops in the Evection folder. Strike the rim-tip of Drums 1, 2, or 3 to reverse the microchops on each drum.
The tonal sounds are all mapped to the heads of each of the drums in Imbrium Rat. The percussive sounds are mapped to the rims. Center-to-edge timbre controllers control filters on the tonal sounds.
Drums 1 and 4 (snare and kick mappings) are from the amyCycles kit in Swarm Sapience, while Drums 2 and 3 have single notes mapped to them: pitched to minor pentatonic scales guided by various timbre controllers. Speed controllers (set to only recognize buzz rolls) modulate high pass filters as well as the “retrig” and “tails” parameters of the tonal drums - so when you buzz on those drums the pitches are filtered and their tails layer over each other (like a harp, not like a trombone which can only play one note at a time). But, when you aren’t buzzing, the pitch tails behave like a trombone (sliding into the next pitch).
Fancy Rat behaves similarly to Ptolemy, but with different sounds mapped to each drum.
Drums 1, 2, and 4 are from the Behavioral Sink kit in Swarm Sapience. Drum 3 is a dynamic tonal synth note from Bubble Wave pitched by timbre controllers and processed through a modulating delay and reverb.
This kit behaves like Ptolemy and Fancy Rat: Drums 2 and 3 are tonal synths controlled by timbre controllers and other gestures.
Second Anomaly has a four voice harmony mapped to Drum 3. Now a common technique in the Sensory Percussion presets, the four voice method uses four different samplers to pitch four notes and harmonize them with varoius timbre controller mappings. The drum plays a different harmony based on where you hit it. This kit uses notes from the Evection folder.
All four drums of this kit have cycling notes sourced from throughout Lunar Cities. Playing the drum out to the edge will pitch the cycling notes to higher scale degrees. Strike Drum 1 and/or Drum 4 hard enough and you will layer a snare/kick sound with the tonal sounds.
evectionKeys 1_1 voice, evectionKeys2_1 voice, evectionKeys2.1_1 voice, evectionSynth2_1 voice, bubbleWave_1 voice, bubbleWave_4 voice, evectionKeys 1_4 voice, evectionKeys2_4 voice, evectionSynth_4 voice, evectionSynth2_4 voice
These kits are primarily here as building blocks for you to drag and drop into other kits. They are designed to be extremely dynamic: scales are controlled with multiple timbre controllers giving each drum a full range of notes, and velocity and speed controllers modulate effects like filters.
You can drag and drop one or more of the drums into kits that need melodies or harmonies - or you can even copy/paste individual samplers into your working kit. The samplers are all in C minor pentatonic by default, but that can be changed with just a few mouse clicks.