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Spitfire Audio launches ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS

Spitfire Audio reunites with BAFTA-winning Icelandic composer and producer to reimagine piano as ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS sample instrument.

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Collectively captivated by this fantastic fusion of organic, emotive physicality and electronic innovation ingenuity, Spitfire Audio spent several weeks at Ólafur Arnalds’ awe-inspiring studio space in Reykjavik, Iceland capturing his unique-sounding Yamaha DU1E3 felt-dampened pianos in their natural habitat.

Visiting sound-specializing British music technology company made full recordings of multitudes of polyrhythmic patterns and textures performed by both pianos, triggered simultaneously by algorithms, and carefully curated in close collaboration with Ólafur Arnalds himself. Having opted to close record them using vintage Neumann KM 83 and Coles microphones, plus pristine Millenia preamps, Spitfire Audio’s carefully captured results retained the beautiful resonances, and full dynamic and tonal range of Ólafur Arnalds’ distinctive-sounding pianos, brought to life by trailblazing technology.

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The resulting ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS methodology makes it easy to create nuanced piano-based music from the most simplistic of arrangements. As such, simply holding down a note or chord can result in getting gloriously lost in inspiring unique clouds of harmonic refractions and rhythmic performances as they swell, evolve, and die away — and all at anyone’s fingertips. For those trying to create whatever musical mood they might have in mind, it offers a whole spectrum of emotion, derived from user input — from intimate loops, swells, and textures to intricate rhythms falling like rain, and dreamy, expansive soundscapes.

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So how, exactly, does ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS do what it is that it does so well? Well, simply speaking, it works by taking a single note and repeating it according to a curated rhythm, splitting the rhythm between the two self-playing pianos while at the same time relocating the note up or down the octave based on a curated level of randomness that chooses whether or not the octave should jump.

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Although all are specially curated by Ólafur Arnalds himself, the user controls how these combinations of harmonic elements develop — both by what they play and with extensive built-in customization options, as well as a comprehensive range of effects, including CONV. (convolution) REVERB, DELAY, FILTER, and TAPE SAT. (saturation).

The first four (piano-based) matrixes capture the stunning organic sounds of Ólafur Arnalds’ pianos, panned across the stereo field — Stratus Piano – Centre, Stratus Piano – Left, and Stratus Piano – Right — to give a true representation of the pianos in their space, seamlessly blended into one, while the other four (synthesizer-based) matrixes employ the same technology to create similar patterns, with stunning tempo-locked rhythmic loops, made using Olafur Arnalds’ classic Korg PS-3100 — a monstrous 48-note polyphonic, patchable analog rarity — and dreamy swarm-like textures from his beloved Juno-60 programmable analog polysynth. The Randomise bar features experimental controls to further randomize ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS’ behavior, taking advantage of the library’s generative nature.

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Needless to say, Spitfire Audio being Spitfire Audio, that’s not all. Augmenting that bespoke Stratus user interface — designed for the selection and playback of samples on a per-voice basis — is the sound-specializing British music technology company’s tried and tested Mercury marvel, another ingenious interface including a range of organic sounds and specially curated warped sounds (WARPS). With that in mind, all controls therein are assignable to external control surfaces, so users can quickly make Spitfire Audio’s already created sounds their own.

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On the face of it, then, ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS’ versatility lends itself to solo compositions, as well as adding texture and unpredictable elements to orchestral libraries, and complementing the libraries in Spitfire Audio’s acclaimed ÓLAFUR ARNALDS… series. All are a must-have for musicians and composers looking to create beautiful, progressive, hybrid ensemble music influenced by the Scandi Noir movement. Making room on a hard drive for ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS is like rooming at Ólafur Arnalds’ awe-inspiring studio space and invading the keen experimenter and innovator’s headspace — albeit without travelling to Reykjavik, inspirational in itself as it undoubtedly is!

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ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS can be purchased and digitally downloaded for a time-limited introductory promo price of £199.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$249.00 USD/ €249.00 EUR (inc. VAT) until April 9, 2020 — rising thereafter to an RRP of £249.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$299.00 USD/€299.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from here.

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ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS needs Native Instruments’ KONTAKT PLAYER (5.6.8 or higher) — a free version of the KONTAKT sample playback engine (included in its purchase) — to run as a fully NKS (NATIVE KONTROL STANDARD®) supporting plug-in instrument for Mac (OS X 10.10 or later) or Windows (7, 8, or 10 — latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit), while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application allows anyone to buy now and download anytime.

For more in-depth information, including some superb-sounding audio demos by Spitfire Audio co-founder and composer Christian Henson and others, please visit the dedicated ÓLAFUR ARNALDS STRATUS site.

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