Olafur Arnalds Evolutions
By Spitfire Audio
While cinematic strings libraries can be found in many flavours, capturing an intimate performance has been more elusive. Spitfire presents us with what is essentially a collection of solo string longs that "evolve" over time. Olafur Arnalds and his string playing collaborators have recorded samples that have pushed the spitfire ethos of capturing mini performances note by note to new levels. What results is a beautiful library that can conjure a wide variety of atmospheres with a single touch of a button.
The EVO grid
The presentation of the sounds in this library is what makes it truly unique. Each note has been recorded 16 different ways and arranged into 4 categories: subtle, thrills, dissonants and episodic. They are all laid out in a grid fashion, and this allows for very quick switching between each type allowing for smooth experimentation. There are functions to randomly select different versions of the notes which allows for endless combinations when playing chords. The EVO grid works very well. Making specific, or sweeping changes to your sound is fast, and experimenting can often yield inspiring results.
The realism this library affords the user is fantastic. The intimate sound of the scratch of the bow as it is drawn across the string is very much in evidence here. The detail that has gone into each performance is deep and have immense character. So much so that a single note press could easily be the spring board for an entire composition. Some notes are purer, while others emphasise the change of bow direction or the harmonic overtones. Some play ever so slightly with the tuning. The variety is impressive and sound wonderful in isolation, or in the background of a mix. The melodic applications of this library are more limited, however. The attack and decay are all on the longer side making it a little unconvincing when moving from one note to another medium to rapid succession. But as this library is a niche product, it is to be expected and not an important negative.
As is often the case with spitfire libraries, there is a selection of sonically warped instruments too. As they all use highly interesting acoustic source material, there are useful patches here to enhance both acoustically or electronically leaning tracks.
Those seeking to enhance tracks that are more sparse or ambient will find an immediate use for this library. Adding an acoustic touch is a breeze, and the sounds are expressive enough to take centre stage. It can almost feel like cheating. Listening to audio demos will give you a good idea of the kind of sound, and I can wholeheartedly vouch for the intuitive EVO grid system.