This week, Gothic Instruments released DRONAR Dark Synthesis – the fourth instalment of the popular sound design series for Kontakt. Listen to the soundtracks for the 2011 movie Drive or Netflix’s Stranger Things, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the dark and mysterious synthetic tones and textures that you can expect to find in this powerful atmospheric sound creator.
We caught up with the sound designers behind this collection – Adam Pietruszko and Alessandro Camnasio – to find out how they created the twisted, eerie and supernatural-sounding audio, what their personal favourite sounds are and where they see composers and producers using it…
Hi Adam and Alessandro, first up, please could you tell us about your working backgrounds?
ADAM: My portfolio consist mostly of sample libraries and synthesizer patch banks produced for major soundware companies. I enjoy programming synthesizers the most, so naturally, my works revolve around synth content in various styles, but always with a strong cinematic flavour. The reason for this is that my early works, that got me into this business, were experimental, synthetic backgrounds for abandoned buildings’ photos made by my wife Gosia and that mood has deeply influenced my style. Apart from that, I teach sound design, acoustics and digital audio at the ARD Academy of Audio Engineering and Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw.
ALESSANDRO: My professional background includes commissioned art music, composition competitions awards, teaching at the University, music and sound design for renowned brands and worldwide trailer campaigns for Mad Max: Fury Road, The BFG, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, LIFE and many others. Basically, I play with sound. 🙂
What role did you each have in the creation of the sounds for DRONAR Dark Synthesis?
ADAM: I created most of the synthetic multi-sample content for DRONAR Dark Synthesis musical and FX layers and also programmed part of the patches of the ready instrument.
ALESSANDRO: I created some sounds for the FX section.
How would you each describe the sounds in this library?
ADAM: A dark, organic, deeply processed mix of sound sources, that evokes instant emotions in the listener, which is the quality mandatory for great textural tools, such as the whole DRONAR series instruments.
ALESSANDRO: Synthetic sounds with an organic quality: twisted, bold, dark, supernatural.
Adam, could you tell us more about the synthesizers that were used in the recordings?
ADAM: I used a wide mix of digital synthesizers ranging from subtractive, through wavetable to physical modelling, which was used to create synth sounds with a “real feel” to them and is my favourite tool for eerie, disturbing sounds. Some sounds were also made with my semi-modular Moog Little Phatty/Moogerfooger setup for that analog timbre.
What other gear did you use?
ADAM: The real key to my sound, sometimes equally important as synthesizers, is processing. Often times a rather boring buzzing patch or a basic filter sweep can be transformed into something utterly otherworldly by using waveshaping, guitar/bass amp simulations, convolution etc. But by far the most important here, were carefully programmed reverbs, sometimes in 100% WET mode, to achieve vast, evolving soundspaces.
Alessandro, could you tell us more about the sound design process?
ALESSANDRO: I recorded some real sources and then twisted them with spectral manipulation techniques, resynthesis and granular synthesis. The raw recordings include electromagnetic fields, musical instruments played unconventionally and other sounds obtained by using microphones in exotic ways. For instance, I put some rice on the skin of a bodhran and played it with a self-made rubber ball stick, recorded the resulting sound very close with high-definition microphones, then processed it. Another sound I created comes from gently rubbing a microphone capsule over my jeans, then twisting it with a complex FX chain. Here’s an audio clip of that sound…
Which of the library’s sounds are among your personal favourites?
ADAM: I love industrial sounds, so I would say FX layer “Abandoned Railway” and “Machinery”, but also eerie “The Howls”, all created using physical modelling. Apart from that, MID layers “Apocalypse” and “Spectral Ensemble” have the disturbing quality I enjoy.
ALESSANDRO: I think “Disturbed” is probably one of the most interesting sounds I have ever created. It’s organic but has this unnerving twisted texture that almost sounds supernatural.
Other personal favourites is “Mad Uplift”, which is based on psychoacoustics techniques creating the impression that the sound keeps rising forever in pitch. Think of it as a Shepard-Risset Glissando on steroids.
Which types of projects would Dark Synthesis work particularly well with?
ADAM: Dark Synthesis will work best in a cinematic scoring settings, for creating soundscapes suited toward a range of genres from horror and sci-fi to action and drama. It is also well capable of dealing with pads, textures and drones in electronic music of different styles, creating great intros, breakdowns and backing layers.
ALESSANDRO: I think Dark Synthesis will find a good place in almost every musical project that requires sounds with a dark, synthetic and twisted mood, from sci-fi and horror soundtracks to dark ambient and trailer music…