Borderlands was already a breakthrough – an instrument that lets you explore all the timbral frontiers of granular synthesis. “2.1” sounds small, but it brings major improvements and feature requests.
First, if you’d missed granular synthesis, the idea is to create rich new evolving textures and timbres by piecing together sounds from smaller bits – the grains. It’s well suited to digital audio and even underlies a lot of the time- and pitch-manipulation software capabilities you know. But really adventuring into playing it as an instrument means managing more parameters at once. Using knobs, or worse, pointing at those knobs with a mouse, can feel limiting – like driving without a steering wheel.
Borderlands by developer Chris Carlson was one of the apps that changed all that, exploiting the multi-touch iOS paradigm to give you more freedom to push sounds to the edge. And Borderlands for many is even a reason to own an iPad. For all the apps on the App Store, it seems musicians often settle on a few beloved favorites like this one. “When is Borderlands getting an update?” has thus become a common refrain.
Great developers are often meek, so let’s just call this Borderlands 3, because that feels about right. You get a ton of tools for better controlling sound, new modes and sound design tools, new connection and synchronization, plus even contributions from some terrific artists.
New in this release:
● Tempo synced grains with Ableton Link
● Semitone pitch tuning option per cloud
● New waterfall-style streaming input mode
● Overdub level control for real time inputs
● ADSR mode with automatable trigger pad for each grain cloud
● Automate sound position, size, and rotation
● New ring modulation, vibrato amount, and probability controls per grain cloud
● Proper scaling on new, larger iPads and iPads with different aspect ratios
● Scene contributions from Cristian Vogel, Electric Indigo, King Britt, Mikronesia, and Tom Hall. Presets from Arovane coming soon.
And Chris has more planned, with ideas like AUv3, MIDI and OpenSoundControl (OSC), and the ability to run on iPhones, among others.
Yes, like many of you, Chris uses this live in performance. Here’s a recent set with three instances of the instrument:
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