Cinematic ‘Big Boomers’ are eagerly embraced by almost every field of commercial music these days and to service this appetite, Gothic Instruments — aided by Hollywood sound designer Alessandro Camnasio — have created Sculptor. It’s a surprisingly compact Kontakt instrument that grabs less than 300MB of your valuable disk space, and after installation is to be found in Kontakt’s ‘files’ section rather than the more friendly ‘libraries’. Even non-Kontakt owners aren’t totally excluded. If you don’t mind a hefty (1.46GB) download, all the presets are available as ready-rolled AIFF files.
The interface is suitably dramatic and features an animated flash of lightning that streaks from left to right every time you play a note. While this adds a palpable sense of impending doom, it also feels like overkill quite quickly. Shield-like knobs set the levels of the three sound elements, Pre-Whoosh, Impact and Decay (each can be individually disabled if necessary). By right clicking the name fields, samples can be replaced, from groups such as Blasts, Deep, Metal Yard, Sci-Fi and Slams.
When ‘Pre-Whoosh’ is enabled, a reversed lead-in sample precedes the impact, giving fair warning to the audience of an alien ship landing, a volcano erupting or the world ending. The gap between whoosh and whump is variable, quantised to 16th notes to help you pick the optimum interval without missing the impact’s cue. The interface is well designed for this kind of fast, uncomplicated operation, but still provides enough tools to modify the source material, at least to an extent. In many cases the controls for reverb, delay, filter, envelope and tuning are plenty — but there’s a deeper level of Master FX on a second screen too. There you can dig into drive and compression, explore multi-mode filtering or the parameters of delay and reverb. Should you fancy a lucky dip, the Random button will scramble the sample choices.
Of course, you needn’t get side-tracked with constructing new patches (unless you want to) because a whole heap of thunder-clapping, troll-drumming presets are provided. The categories include Impacts, Monsta Percussion, Low Thunder and Guest Presets, the latter probably containing the most varied material. However, even with evidently skilled tweaking of Sculptor’s parameters, many of the patches sound fairly similar. This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock considering they are all such massive-scale, reverberant bangs! Given there are approximately five octaves of humongous hits in every patch, auditioning them in any meaningful way is practically impossible. Fortunately, finding something quickly you’ll want to use is not.
Sculptor is about as subtle as a hammer and chisel, which is exactly as it should be! While its tones are not be as diverse or complex as, say, NI’s Rise & Hit, it scores by being cheaper, faster and armed with its own unique set of impressive impacts. Sculptor is more than up to the task of bulking up any musical project, from pompous prog rock to video games and big screen blockbusters.