Vertigo Strings by Cinematique Instruments Review
Today we’ll be having a look at an experimental string library designed to create raw pads, harsh tones, and soft sustains with relative ease for different varieties of cinematic music – Vertigo Strings from Cinematique Instruments. Thorsten also did review Vertigo Strings earlier in May 2018.
Cinematique Instruments have been around for a while, offering affordable experimental libraries in a wide variety of styles – including pianos, folk instruments, odd synths and more industrial style content. For Vertigo Strings they’ve recorded a selection of non-traditional sustains for violins, violas, celli, and basses, along with other layers like a synth string channel and a bow noise channel that can be mixed in to taste.
Installing the product is simple – the downloaded zip files are unzipped to your folder of choice, and then you can load up the patches in the full version of Kontakt.
Vertigo sounds dirty – but in a tasty way. The sustains provided vary between each section, but for the most part, we get ghostly sul ponte longs, raw, expressive longs, and harmonic longs for celli and violins among others. These long notes have an earthy, gritty texture that isn’t commonly heard in string libraries, so it’s a fresh and unique sound that brings out the more human elements of the instruments through its imperfections.
If you need a dark, raw and emotive sound in your composition (like for industrial, experimental or dark cinematic scoring) these strings will provide a genuine sound that can’t be found in traditional string libraries. The harmonics sound wispy and breathless while the harsher sustains have a churning underbelly.
To facilitate a broader sound palette, sustains from a bowed guitar, bowed psaltery, a synth pad and the sound of bow noise have been provided, which the user can mix in with the regular sustains for an even more vibrant and more evocative sound (or you can just play the synth pad on its own if you’d like – it has a wonderfully warm tone).
User interface & Usability
The interface is relatively straightforward – all of the sustains are loaded into a single patch and can be mixed freely with the provided faders, allowing you to have just the sul ponte violins, celli harmonics or the entire library playing at once. There are controls provided that add saturation, rotary and delay among others to get a more lo-fi sound, and there’s also a selection of in-patch presets that can be loaded, changed and saved. No key switching, just mixing and matching basically.
All of this gives the user access to a raw, natural sound and an ambient, processed sound to utilize – but it’s not without its faults, which keep me from giving this library the score it would be worthy of. The problem is with how Cinematique Instruments have set the samples up within the patch – the crossfading between the softer sustains and louder sustains can become utter chaos, with some rather ugly saturation and volume bumps rearing their head when attempting to play expressively using the mod wheel. This might not pose a problem when you’re going for that dirty lo-fi sound, but you’ll realize that it kills a lot of the library’s potential for softer and more natural expression.
The library is undoubtedly capable of beautifully soft passages and raw natural tones, but only after I spent hours chipping away at the library in Kontakt’s editing page, un-assigning effects, changing parameter mods and boycotting specific dynamic layers. It’s somewhat baffling to me how such great content was buried under so much patch design mayhem, and it may turn some potential users away from the library.
It’s apparent that Vertigo Strings is designed to be more of a throwback to lo-fi string scoring from the 50’s and 60’s, with experimental pad design in mind – but the sampled content can be so much more than because when thoroughly customized, it shows a whole new side of its personality.
Rating: Three out of five stars
If Cinematique Instruments are willing to provide a perhaps less volatile version of the core patch – one that doesn’t scream bloody-murder when using the mod wheel – and if they could fix the dynamic bumps, this library would indeed be worthy of another star. Regardless, the library will find a happy home with experimental and industrial composers looking for some authentically dirty string tones.
I doubt many composers will be willing to re-organize the entire library to access these gems though, so I’m offering my customized patch to those who want to experience the softer side of Vertigo – note that the effects have been disabled in this patch, so only the sample faders work in the GUI. It requires Kontakt full version 5.8 to run, and a copy of the library itself.