Spitfire Audio have collaborated with renowned Brooklyn-based artist Blankfor.ms for a tape synth library. We tested out this awe-inspiring collection of tape-drenched textures in the studio.
In the world of digital cleanliness, we need some grit and here you have it. Packaged up in the Spitfire Audio player is their latest release Blankfor.ms: a sample library collaboration between the artist himself and Spitfire Audio of curated sounds created with analog synths passing through tape machines.
Spitfire Audio is well known for both its epic sample libraries such as their BBC Symphony Orchestra Professional and its simple-to-use, quirky and moody sample library LABS. Covering all types of music makers, Blankfor.ms takes after the LABS format which is an epic free collection of sound samples packaged up in a neat player that features curious sounds such as ‘London Atmos’ and ‘Frozen Strings’. Read on and watch our video below:
Staying in that world of being able to use a sound straight away they teamed up with renowned Brooklyn-based artist Blankfor.ms — also known as Tyler Gilmore — who uses degraded tapes and analog synthesizers to create ambient and entrancing sounds.
Blankfor.ms sits firmly in that category of instant sound scapes with its collection of sounds that feature over 150 layers across the 28 main presets. With names like Reverse Chaos, Endless Particulates and Dusty Ribbons, the sounds resonate exactly as you would expect. Think lo-fi, warm, washy and textured layers.
Tyler Gilmore aka BlankFor.ms has captured his unique creative process perfectly inside this collection with his use of degraded tape machines run through rare and classic pedals, tone-shaping devices, vintage delay chips and unusual gear, from the Walkman, Library of Congress C1 cassette player to a range of Tascams and a Modular system.
While manipulating sound he heavily mangles and processes via tape splicing, pitch-shifting, generative techniques, analog saturation, filtering, distortion, granular synthesis and more.
We opened up the software synth and immediately got lost in the dense textures and found that even with very few variable effects — Reverb, Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release and Start point — you could change the sound dramatically enough that it felt like your own extension of Blankfor.ms original sample.
Using Spitfire Audio’s Expression and Dynamics on the left hand side you can morph the sound even further. Our favourite preset of the bunch was Expanding Cloud Pad. It floated across the top of the sound spectrum in all the right ways, inspiring me to make some music, but I had to crack on exploring.
Speaking of floating, there’s 7 impulse response reverbs — found in the middle up the top — ranging from short studios and rooms to long, cavernous churches and halls. Inside the collection there’s 12 Keys, 10 Pads, and 6 Arps, as well as the 110 presets made by Blankfor.ms himself.
Reflecting upon his creation Blankfor.ms remarked:
“Imagine that dusty unmarked cassette you find in a thrift store… lush tones hidden behind a veil of tape degradation, distortion and magnetic saturation. There’s something magical about how each tape machine filters, destabilizes, and saturates whatever is recorded onto it.
To my ear, tape introduces a deep, organic version of chaos. It brings a level of randomization in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Pitch (tape speed), filtering, and level are all subject to constant variability.
It occurs to the brain as a hazing effect when used lightly, and disorienting when intensified. We have become so accustomed to digital audio and its pristine perfection that tape’s magic has a new sort of value. It brings something more tactile, more alive, to the tones.”
To resonate with Blankfor.ms thoughts, we found that each sound we opened up was instantly inspirational and summoned you to start creating. Now that’s the mark of a good sound library and software instrument.
Thanks to Setwun for his brilliant Somewhere Sounds sample pack we used to make the underlying beat in our video. You can download that sample pack and others here: Somewhere Sounds Sample Packs