Borderlands Tutorial (iPad version) from Christopher Carlson on Vimeo.

What makes the tablet software experience unique on the iPad is the sense of immersive software – touching the screen interface directly, and letting everything else fall away. There’s a cost – you don’t get the flexibility of desktop software or the tangible quality of hardware. But sometimes, that experience becomes something unique.

Users have been eagerly waiting since earlier this year for the release of Borderlands Granular because it suggests something really special. It has the feeling of a tool that is at its best in this medium: visual, touchable, and a window to new worlds of sound. And now, it’s here, at US$3.99 for any iPad. (If you’re willing to live with degraded performance, even the first-gen iPad works; I’ll test on that hardware. Speaking of which, someone want to buy me a new iPad?)

Amidst a deluge of iOS software, Borderlands Granular stands apart. It’s sonically adventurous, visually creative, and behind it is a robust research project and open source code that can enable it to run on desktop, too. It’d be great to see more projects take on those kinds of goals.

Here’s what I wrote in April – and now is a perfect time to revisit the conceptual sketch developer Chris Carlson sent us back then:

How do you visualize the invisible? How do expose a process with multiple parameters in a way that’s straightforward and musically intuitive? Can messing about with granular sound feel like touching that sound – something untouchable?

Answer: um, yes? Yes, it can? Have a try, and let us know what you think – and do post interesting sounds and music you make so we can all give it a listen.

Borderlands on the App Store

Chris’ research is available on his site:

Borderlands, Amazing-Looking Granular Sampler [iPad, Desktop, Free Source], and Beautiful Sound