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Keepforest – Evolution: Atlantica Review

keepforest evolution atlantica

Evolution: Atlantica is Keepforest’s second and most recent collection of high-quality cinematic FX and instruments aimed at trailer music, film and game music composers. This time, we had the chance to get our hands on the library before its actual release on March 31st and gave it a thorough test run.

In addition to a multitude of typical trailer-style FX like hits, whooshes and risers, Keepforest upped the ante by adding multi-sampled guitar patches, layered pulses and even a real brass section. The concept behind Evolution: Atlantica is to provide composers with a powerful and flexible all-round sound design tool to quickly create state-of-the-art cinematic music. In today’s review, we’ll find out together how well Keepforest managed to realize their concept.

Let’s go!

OVERVIEW

With around 10 GB of sample content, Evolution: Atlantica is more than two times the size of its predecessor Evolution: Dragon. One reason for this is the introduction of multi-sampled patches but the increase in size is also due to the enormous amount of additional content provided.
The library comes with over 100 Kontakt instrument patches featuring a wealth of different sounds including:

SFX:

  • 37 Braams
  • 100 Epic Trailer Hits
  • 105 Whooshes
  • 44 Booms
  • 72 Short Punch Hits
  • 36 Short Punch Metal Hits
  • 18 Tonal Reversed FXs
  • 14 Rises
  • 48 Downers
  • 32 Alarms & Signals
  • 120 Transformation FX
  • 20 Transition Shutters

Brass:

  • Low Trailer Brass
  • Bends

Guitars:

  • Trailer Bass Guitar
  • Trailer Electric Guitars

Pulses:

  • 125 Pulses

Synth:

  • Pads
  • Basses
  • Leads
  • Drones
  • Plucks

Evolution: Atlantica’s interface builds upon Evolution: Dragon’s, including the big central “punishment” knob, ADSR enveloping functions as well as a comprehensive step sequencer and arpeggiator tab. The latter one has been revisited and enhanced to make Atlantica’s patches sonically more flexible. Another cool new feature is the introduction of playable synth patches ranging from leads, basses and drones to pads, plucks and more.
Atlantica’s overhauled user interface offers a huge amount of customization options if you want to shape the pre-designed sounds even further. Apart from the step sequencer and the big knob which adds an increasing amount of saturation and EQ, you can process your patches with multiple onboard FX and add LFO modulation to a sound’s volume and pan settings.
A significant amount of Atlantica’s sounds deals with hybrid brass instruments. For this occasion, Keepforest recorded and sampled their own brass section specifically for this project and programmed the sounds into several hybrid instruments.

Evolution: Atlantica – Brass Recordings


Since there are so many different sound and categories, I decided to go about each group shortly and to include my thoughts on sound and handling directly within the individual blocks. I’ll provide a rating of the overall sound and usability of the library after that.

EVOLUTION: ATLANTICA’S PATCHES

Brass

This folder features a variety of patches and sounds containing orchestral brass. Among those are Trailer Low Brass, Inception Braams as well as Epic Bends, Growling Brass and a couple of panning Brass Shots.
The source brass sounds were recorded with an actual brass section in Minsk specifically for Keepforest’s new library. The raw brass samples were then layered with low aggressive synth sounds to create massive sustaining hybrid brass sounds.
The two Inception Braams patches are similar to the trailer low brass sounds but most of them feature a distinct and trailer-typical impact hit as well as a more synthetic overall sound. Since this distinct effect was made famous by the trailer campaign for mega blockbuster Inception (hence the patch’s name), the Braam sound is a die hard staple of trailer music since then.

Inception Trailer Including Braams

Guitars & Basses

Another special feature of Evolution: Atlantica are its sampled guitar and and bass patches. Much like with the brass patches, you’re provided with several different electric guitar and bass instruments that serve very particular purposes.
There are two different guitar patches, one single tracked and one double-tracked distorted guitar instrument. Both feature long sustaining tones that can be turned into staccato articulations by disabling the release portions of the samples. Furthermore, you’ll find a total of 4 bass patches – fingered clean and distorted electric bass, a contrabass and a distorted slap bass patch. I’d like to point out the great sound and playability of the standard bass patch. Faster repetitions on one note – like 8th bass figures – are not its particular strength due to the missing round robins, but the patch works really well when you play slower passages combined with the programmed legato/glide function.
The contrabass patch, too, has a very aggressive sound to it, which could be especially useful for accented staccato passages. Make sure to try the interface’s built-in arpeggiator/step sequencer on the contrabass patch to create some interesting and punchy pulses.

Pulses

The Pulses patch consists of a selection of multi-layered pulses that adapt to your host’s tempo. Using the big knob, you can increase or decrease the amount of layers which make this patch ideal Ideal for creating evolving pulses that start really low and brooding and get more and more aggressive as high frequency layers are introduced.
A second patch called “Pulses Menu” grants access to each individual layer of a chosen pulse similar to Native Instruments Action Strikes or Cinesamples’ Deep Percussion Beds.

Epic Trailer Hits

As the name suggests, this patch features a collection of trailer-style hits, booms and downers. In addition to the impacts themselves, you can turn on or off the whoosh portion before a given hit by using the “Whoosh” button on the lower right. Each key features a variety of two to four sounds you can either flick through manually using the wave display’s “Next” button or randomize the selection by clicking on the RND button.

Evolution: Atlantica – Audio Demos

Tonal Synths

Evolution: Atlantica’s “Tonal” folder contains a variety of playable patches from categories like basses, drones, leads, pads and plucks. The patches found in the folders contain pre-designed sounds that are playable like a simplified synthesizer – or ROMpler rather – that lets you adjust the ADSR envelope, glide and control step sequencer/arpeggiator functions. With their playable patches, Keepforest introduced a nice sounding glide/legato function, which helps to connect the keys you’re playing. Especially the lead and bass patches benefit from this extra function. Another big improvement in comparison to Evolution: Dragon is Keepforest’s approach to sampling tonal content. The team now works with multi-sampled patches instead of taking one sample and stretching it several octaves up and down. This new approach results in a much better overall tone and balance throughout the entire key range.

The big knob FX treatment intensifies the sound of the playable patches by introducing saturation, an overdrive pedal effect and some gentle low and high boost. However, depending on the patch you’re using, the big knob doesn’t always turn a given patch sound better. This is particularly true for the bass patches whose attack and punch tends to get sucked out when turning up the big knob too much.
A new feature of the Evolution series introduced with Atlantica is a so-called “Synth Menu” patch. It enables you to choose from the complete pool of tonal patches and stack 4 layers of sounds together to create your very own sounds and textures.

Booms, Sub Hits, Short Hits & Drops

As the names suggest, these patches contain collections of different well-known trailer effects. Handling-wise, they work just like the aforementioned Epic Trailer Hits patches as each key inhibits between two to four sound variations you can dial up using the method stated before.
Please keep in mind that a lot of these sounds contain a pre-hit whoosh part you can switch on by either using the keyswitch F1 or by clicking on the “Whoosh” button on the GUI.
You get two variations of so-called Short Punch Hits, one having metal sounds added to the short hits that create a slightly more industrial feeling to the effects.

Alarms

Since it’s quite a common trailer effect nowadays, a collection of alert sounds and synthesized sirens can be found within Evolution: Atlantica, too. Those are commonly used in trailers for accenting repeating quick cuts and horror moments. While the samples sound great and contemporary, it would have been awesome to have some variations or round-robins of the single sounds in order to make repeating sequences sound less machine gun-like.
A bit hidden within the folders you’ll find another alert sound patch called “Classic Alarms” which contains a selection of more commonly heard alert FX. Nevertheless, they still sound interesting and feel as usable as the more “modern” ones.

Transitions, Transformations, Whooshes, Reversed FX, Risers

Evolution: Atlantica contains a good amount of transitional effects commonly used in trailer music. Both the tonal and non-tonal effects are presented in a fair bit of variety to choose from. In addition to the main NKIs, you can find more alternatives in the accompanying folders. Whooshes, for example, are also available as panning effects and whoosh hits. The Transformation FX folder contains 8 patches featuring different complex transitioning effects often associated with the Transformers movie franchise. These range from basses, shutters and beeps to noises, metals and a collection of custom sounds.

THE SOUND OF EVOLUTION: ATLANTICA

Boy, it took me quite some time to get through all the great content provided with Evolution: Atlantica. The SFX portion of the library contains a lot of fresh and usable material and covers the most common trailer effects categories very well. The alternate samples you get with some of the SFX patches like the trailer hits and booms come in really handy when you like to repeat a certain sound over a short period of time – like for a high energy trailer music finale. The mostly higher pitched alert sounds serve as great companions to the low, rumbling braams. Although the sampled brass and guitar recordings don’t replace a full-fledged orchestral library or even the real thing, they are great tools for laying down powerful tonal backgrounds. Atlantica’s synth pulses are a real highlight, especially since you can control the amount of aggressiveness and complexity by hand. The decision to multi-sample most of the sounds instead of stretching one sample over the entire key range is not only beneficial for the brass and guitar patches, it also increases the tonal quality of the synth patches massively.

Evolution: Atlantica – Live Performance


The patch and folder structure of Evolution: Atlantica can be a bit confusing at times and some important switches and buttons don’t leap to the eye immediately. At first I had some problems finding the activator switch for the GUI’s big knob for example. Although it is in fact located just below the respective control, its dark color and unobtrusive design kept it hidden from my view.
As mentioned in the beginning, I was testing a pre-release version and the graphic issue might have just been addressed in the meantime.
On a final note, Keepforest’s re-designed “Motion” tab got some extra functions that really help to customize sounds and create some interesting pulses and rhythms.

CONCLUSION

Keepforest strikes back hard with their new release Evolution: Atlantica, both in terms of content and sound. On top of the many excellent sounding trailer SFX, you’ll get both powerful hybrid orchestral low brass stabs as well as some raunchy electric bass and guitar patches. The selection of pre-designed synth sounds is great on it’s own, but the possibility to combine and stack them into your own custom patches really represents one of the library’s most interesting concepts. I’m sure, Keepforest will continue to work on the idea of combining sounds on future releases.

Although Evolution: Atlantica’s well-processed sounds allow for a quick and easy integration into a track, its built-in features, FX and sequencing options offer a lot of playground to shape and customize your sounds.
With it’s comprehensive and contemporary box of tools, Evolution: Atlantica will keep trailer music, film and game composers alike busy for a long time. Keepforest’s Evolution: Atlantica is out on March 31st and will be available for a limited introductory price of $139.00 (regular price: $199.00).

Read an exclusive interview with co-founder of Keepforest Evgeny Emelyanov.

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