Spitfire Audio announces availability of Darkstar - Haunted House
This time immersing its users in the unique sound world of electronic music duo Darkstar, acclaimed artists on the trailblazing British independent record label Warp Records roster responsible for experimental electronic stylings such as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), creatively collaborating to expand upon the sonic palette of this year’s critically-acclaimed Civic Jams album as a versatile tool to create the tension, depth, and atmosphere anchoring an equally unique sample library lending itself to any setting from contemporary electronic music to hybrid modern film, television, and game composition courtesy of processed analogue synth textures and loops, rich sub-basses, pitched- down drums, and icy, warped vocals, all layered with subliminal spectral echoes of rave culture and industrial noise — as of November 19, having been cryptically publicised previously with posters (plastered around London) and on social media…
Warp Records is home to an impressive roster of some of the most influential electronic acts to have emerged from the UK, with Darkstar being amongst good company, such as Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Boards of Canada. Civic Jams is Darkstar’s fourth album, and explores their experience of the ever-changing London music scene. Subsequently expanding on that recording’s sonic palette, deciphering DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE involves stepping, briefly, back in time — to Darkstar’s origins in dance and bass music, beginning with sequencers and extensive sampling, creatively combining found sounds from the real world with those from films and television shows together with existing music samples — which, in turn, offers a fresh sonic perspective. Put it this way: when the duo discovered electronic music through their love of sampling, they found their home and community in the London club scene. Their take on electronic music — idiosyncratic in itself, which was hardly surprising for an act named after action-, horror-, and sci-fi-associated American film director, producer, actor, screenwriter, and composer John Carpenter’s 1974 spaced out odyssey debut, having themselves studied post-production and analysed a lot of sci-fi sound production — has positioned them as key voices within that scene for the best part of two decades. Darkstar more recently worked with the likes of Actress, Wild Beats, and Zomby, releasing music with Empress Of and Giaka, as well as branching out into scoring groundbreaking live dance performances with Holly Blakey — one of the go-to choreographers for anything from alternative pop to the weirder reaches of electronic music — and the Palme d’Or-nominated short film Dreamlands, vying for the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.
Forming a perfect fit for creatively collaborating with Spitfire Audio on DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE, the latest sample library presented in the sound-specialising British music technology company’s award-winning, easy-to-use plug-in, Darkstar’s James Young pertinently provides a timely introduction in today’s turbulent times: “London was a home for everything that birthed Darkstar, but slowly those things stopped and faded into the background and it became a ghost of the past — a shell of itself — and I started to think of it somewhat as a haunted house, with all the great things there but not there. Just echoes of the goodness — what it once was. We’ve never really been about the technical aspect of making music; it’s always been the intangibles — the things that bleed into recording from the everyday things you do. HAUNTED HOUSE is those sounds that creep around and lie in the periphery. The edges of each sound blur, because that’s how we like them — noise and all.”
As such, this unique approach to sonic experimentation is palpable in the colour and shade of the versatile collection constituting DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE, drawing deep from a well of analogue synths, organs sampled at award-winning London venue and working church Union Chapel (central to Spitfire Audio’s publicly praised UNION CHAPEL ORGAN sample library that so successfully captured the unique sound of the restored 19th Century pipe organ there), found sounds, vocals (performed by Darkstar’s Aiden Whalley), and drums, duly transformed via finely-tuned processing techniques — from tape saturation to outboard re-amping, realising warmth and texture in various ways.
As a distillation of a sonic palette built up by Darkstar during the last few years, DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE swings from introspective to expansive, moody and industrial to nostalgic beauty — from the highs and lows of nocturnal inner-city life to dawn’s emergence. Electronic beds of uneasy ambience are haunted by disquieting white noise and peripheral shimmers, taking influence from various dance music genres from shoegaze to deep house to grime, and the euphoria of Nineties rave abandon — echoes of millennial-era underground dance parties at clubs including The Void and Plastic People (with presets named in tribute to Darkstar’s favourite club nights).
Needless to say its 44 presets span SYNTHS (analogue-sounding layered synth textures, from sub-basses and gritty, unsettling pads through to beautiful organ-like analogue- sounding synths); VO1CES (icy, processed vocal samples); FOUND SOUND (gnarly textural London sounds); RVVM (deep, lo-fi drums and percussion loops); and W4PRD (otherworldly synths sounds, wonderfully warped by Spitfire Audio developers from the source material). Meanwhile, THE KNOB dominating the GUI alters 4TT4CK (ATTACK — adjusts the attack time of the amplitude envelope), REL34SE (RELEASE — changes the amount of release triggered that is heard), 4 ETERNITY (REVERB — controls the amount of reverb being added), REP 4 ME (DELAY — controls the amount of delay being added), R LUV BOO (STRETCH — controls the speed of the sample playback), and MIST N FLEX (FLANGER — controls the amount of flanger being added) settings that are also available in distinctive Darkstar and Warp Records style alongside info box-highlighted EXPRESSION and H4UNTED HOUSE sliders — the latter dynamically fading from a clean signal to a 100% processed, ‘h4unted’ signal, unique to each preset, allowing adventurous users to totally transform each preset to speedily facilitate their own sonic vision. Virtual instruments often look superficially similar, yet there is no mistaking the distinctive design of the functionally flexible DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE plug-in, itself reflecting Darkstar’s journey into the world of electronic music through old-school plug- ins, interrupted Internet connections, and early versions of Apple’s long-running Logic DAW’s (relatively recently retired) EXS24 software sampler.
Whatever way anyone chooses to work with DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE, it is certainly suited to games, television, and film — especially sci-fi and thriller — scoring, where it can create tension beds, atmosphere, warmth, textures, and ambience, or add to orchestral elements. It is also at home in the music production sphere, suited to a wide range of genres from house tracks to ambient electronic music, grime to 2-step, and beyond. Readily reminiscent of the hauntology movement, its experimentation-promoting sounds reflect the things that lurk at the back of our mind or in memory alone — beauty and heartbreak found in everyday life; a nostalgia for a future promised that never came to pass; faded cultural memories, with sinister undercurrents; London as a shell of its former cultural self. Creatively capturing the collective spirit of a city in mourning and its desolate horizons — a ghost town, waiting for the dawn... DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE. Musically make of it what you will, but use it at will — while possibly scaring yourself in the process!
DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE is available as an AAX-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-compatible plug-in supporting Native Instruments’ NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) for Mac (OS X 10.10 or later) and Windows (7, 8, and 10 — latest Service Pack) that loads directly into any compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for an RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of only £29.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$29.00 USD/€29.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from here.
Civic Jams, the fourth album by British electronic duo Darkstar, is available to purchase either on its own or as a bundle — comprising a limited-edition 12-inch vinyl album (plus WAV / FLAC digital download) and the DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE sample library — directly from Warp Records here.
Spitfire Audio’s namesake Spitfire Audio application allows anyone to buy now and download anytime, and is available for free from here.
Watch Spitfire Audio in-house composer Homay Schmitz’s walkthrough of DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE here: https://youtu.be/g6q0ciCwZKE
Hear the unique sound world of electronic music duo Darkstar in action while watching the trailer video for DARKSTAR - HAUNTED HOUSE here:
Watch the walkthrough here: