At some point, you don’t want another plate reverb. You want the experimental sounds of a phase vocoder combined with a physics model – like in this free Max for Live effect.

Coming from LA-based artist Dillon Bastan – whose electroacoustic work is really wild, too – Spectral Attractors is a free audio buffer effect for Max for Live. (It therefore requires Live Suite or a Max for Live license.)

The concept is really wild. You take an audio buffer, by dropping a sample on the device or routing from another track. And then the effect using a physics simulation with attractors – a mathematical model of a dynamic system – to shift and shape bits of the sound. It should appeal to fans of tools like the discontinued Spektral Delay from Native Instruments. (Spektral Delay did not use anything like this attractors model, and it likely would have overwhelmed CPUs of the time. But there was a phase vocoding approach in that tool, so some of the strange spectral smearing and glassy timbral results you will hear in both.)

Some of these results are absolutely beautiful. A quick overview:

And here’s a full walkthrough. The interface is quite elegant and Ableton-like, but you will want to grok some of how it works:

Morphing through elements of the spectrum brings out colors and textures in your sound source that you otherwise might miss.

There’s a simple 2D mode, which is probably the easier to follow (both easier on your brain and easier on your CPU).

But there’s also a massive “FFT mode” which does something I can’t say I’ve ever seen in an effect before.

FFT Mode: physics simulation is in 12288 dimensions (a bit higher CPU as a result) in which every FFT frequency bin amplitude, phase value and previous frame value for both left and right channels is a dimension, which results in a complex soundscape and combination of spectrums.

(That’s also quite a lot more bands that you could get from Spektral Delay.) Plus you can control pitch shifting, add randomization, adjust physics dynamics, and find other ways of making this more playable and creative.

Find the effect for free on gumroad:

And, of course:

Spectral Attractors 1.0.1

There’s a ton of other stuff to explore from Dillon, too:

So for instance, try Ripple Filter:

That one is $5, but with 100% of sales going to charity.

So, thanks, Dillon, basically putting all positive things into the world.