True eclecticism is a surprisingly rare commodity in dance music, but Detroit-based production wizard Jeremy Howard, aka Sinistarr, sells it by the pound. Building on drum ’n’ bass foundations, Jeremy’s broader influences – ghettotech, techno, house and more – are plain to hear in his work, but perfectly and effortlessly integrated to create a sound that’s always fresh and unique. From his earliest releases on Metalheadz, Hopsital and Creative Source to last year’s sublime jungle/footwork crossover collaboration with Bristol bass-head Hyroglifics, the BS6 EP, his multidimensional output has followed a clear developmental trajectory that constantly invites speculation as to what’s coming next.
Of course, an adventurous producer needs adventurous sounds, and the amorphous REAKTOR has been a go-to tool in Jeremy’s box since day one. Here, he reveals his five favorite instruments from the REAKTOR Factory Library, and puts each one through its paces in an exclusive series of demo tracks, each one comprising nothing more than eight tracks of the Ensemble in question.
Jeremy’s first selection is a hard-hitting additive synth that every bass music producer should have in their REAKTOR library – and given that it’s included with the free REAKTOR player, there’s no reason not to grab it.
“I Love LazerBass for the low, low looow end I can get out of it,” he says, “as well as modulating the higher leads and strange pad sounds via pattern beating. This is definitely a go-to Ensemble.”
A love letter to the great wavetable synths of the past, Nanowave lets you load any of 43 carefully designed ‘WaveSets’ into each of its two oscillators and modulate through them using various source signals, including an envelope and an LFO.
“Nanowave is really amazing for strings and FM sounds,” affirms Jeremy. “Altogether, in this example, they make a massive wall of stereo goodness.”
Oki Computer 2
This funky little synth turns out a great line in glitchy retro weirdness with its customisable wavetables, and copious modulation options presented by the clever Table step sequencer, two multistage envelopes, and an LFO.
“Oki Computer is my favourite aside from the Lazerbass,” enthuses Jeremy. “Automation is easy, the wavetable is so clean to use, and bitcrushing with the effects panel is a blast. It already had me at the ‘Detroit’ patch! Oki is prime for making video game–style sounds or tough, bassy blips – the choice is yours.”
Easy to use but fully kitted-out, SoundSchool Analog was designed to serve as an “introductory tool” for the newbie synthesist, but is equally viable for the experienced producer looking to cook up analog-style tones in a hurry. Featuring two oscillators, a broad selection of filters, two envelopes and an LFO, FM and Ring Mod, and a stereo delay effect, it gets straight to the point and sounds awesome doing it.
“It’s simple to make drums and other sounds in SoundSchool Analog – no fuss, no mess and handy for crafting unique sounds.”
The jewel in REAKTOR’s Factory Library crown, Titan’s three-oscillator (well, three and a half, really, as one is a ‘dual’ configuration) architecture, action-packed modulation system (the entire ‘A’ view is given over to the matrix) and integrated effects make it a first call for tough basses, shifting pads, sinuous leads and more.
“Titan is so lush! The bass is thick, the leads are wild, and I make artificial claps and hats with it. I enjoy how much it really utilises the high quality sound engine of Reaktor.”
Photo credits: Jamie MacGregor