Fruity Loops, while a long-time underground favorite of PC music makers, seems to be on a roll at the moment. We were lucky enough to get an FL Studio 8 sneak peak with Didier Dambrin, Image-Line’s lead programmer — one of the great music software artists. Since our French was nonexistent and his English was limited, the scene was something like this: Didier silently tweaks his way around his software, we squint at the screen, and magical sound awesomeness happens.

FL Studio 8’s feature set will evidently be set free gradually, starting with a beta build called “7.4” you’ll be able to download from the forums. The new features are FL’s combination of sublimely powerful tools and oddly superfluous toys. In the toys category: a live audio visualization you can float around your screen. (I’m guessing they’ll be fun to look at when you’re completely stuck creatively in the middle of a project.) In the sublime category: a new beat slicer that takes Edison several leaps further. Beat slices are MIDI assignable, filters and such are already available, and … well, it’s rather hard to describe, but it’s all put together in a Fruity way that makes it compelling.

The other revelation was that the cult-hit SynthMaker VST creation tool is now being licensed by Image-Line for inclusion with FL Studio. It’s not clear yet what if anything will be unique to this version, but the combination of FL’s tools with custom SynthMaker instruments you’ve built yourself sounds lovely. It should give you something to muse on while we wait on Ableton and Cycling ’74, who are still mum on any product of the partnership they announced last year. No other details yet on FL 8 or FL SynthMaker, but this one’s dead center on our radar.