Stretch, bend, and mangle those sounds, because BLEASS’ tape and granular effects from iOS are now PC and Mac plug-ins, too. Plus we’ve got a CDM exclusive bonus for ROLI hardware owners.
Tour de Desktop
Hailing from Tourcoing, France, along the Belgian border, the folks at BLEASS are already well known to iPad and iPhone musicians. But, now, I’m sure some of you are very much like me. Yes, I have an iPad. Heck, it’s even a fairly powerful iPad Pro from a few years back. I should be using it all the time. But apart from an app or two, I just keep coming back to all the tools and toys on my computer, the precision and familiarity and choice that brings. (I’ll assume streaming Loki doesn’t really count as production, even with all that Theremin I’m hearing and the brief appearance of a volca.)
All that is to say – it’s very good that BLEASS have been gradually bringing their stuff to the desktop. It opens up a ton of workflows and creativity for a lot of us – and once you map automation and/or control, the elements that makes these tools fun to use live with a touch interface can make sense on desktop, too.
So while you should check out all those iOS goodies if you have the hardware, their Shimmer and Reverb, Chorus, and now Granulizer and Slow Machine are all available now as Mac/PC VST and Audio Unit plug-ins. Plus, they’re at iOS prices.
First, Slow Machine. Yes, at its core is a familiar gimmick – the braking effect from a tape machine, along with tape slowing effects and filters. You know what I’m talking about with the brake / tape stop specifically, even if you don’t think you know what I’m talking about. Listen:
As the “Slow Machine” part indicates, they’ve run with the concept, though. You get time-synced slowdown effects, which you can also mix with source material with controllable wet/dry, for adding quantized or unquantized thickening and deepening and processing.
The time stop alone has a number of different modes, triggers, and speed controls, meaning you can precisely mimic the effect you’re used to or bend this in an unexpected way, especially dependent on your source material. (That’s another reason I’m glad to have it in a desktop session, where it provides quick access to doing something fluid and unexpected with existing sounds.)
And then they went in and put in an entire step sequencer with tons of options and randomization. So yes, if you have more IDM-level destruction in mind (hey, we did bring up Warp and the 1990s today) – they’ve got you.
And there are fades and crossfades for everything, including individual steps in the step sequencer.
Check out this extensive review in video:
I should probably make videos, but… sorry, I’m turning my phone to flight mode and playing with this in the studio all night. Coffee’s on. Goodbye.
And then there’s Granulizer, a “granular texture effect.” What’s unique here on both iOS and desktop is its four audio input bus structure, plus there’s a very pretty, 80s-ish 3D visualizer.
There are a lot of granulizers at this point – and on desktop you have all the usual Reaktor or Max for Live suspects and whatnot. But they’ve done an exceptional job with the UI that holds up on desktop as well as it did on iOS, and a smart approach to parameters and tuning:
- Grain size (free/synced)
- Density (free/synced)
- Offset (free/synced)
- Backward/forward play direction
- Shape (grain envelope)
- Warmth – ah, there’s your first twist, a distortion phase (smart)
- Tune, with mode support
- Randomization for everything, with nicely designed controls – stuff you get elsewhere but clearly set up here
Plus, whereas my Max for Live stuff is limited to one host, I’m very happy to have this on Mac and PC as a VST and AU for some flexibility.
And here’s a full walkthrough, except… sorry, the coffee is kicking in and I’m off to just fiddle with the knobs.
ROLI CDM Exclusive
Now, I didn’t ask for this, but BLEASS have been kind enough to give us all a Midsomer present. It’s advanced custom hardware control for the ROLI Lightpad Block – which convinced me to dust mine off, for real. (ROLI weren’t involved – just they took advantage of the convenience of that gear!)
It’s really clever, and makes the whole effect playable:
If you don’t have a ROLI Lightpad Block, I think it’s still a great reminder to try mapping some hardware controllers on the desktop versions of both the Granulizer and Slow Machine.
They explain their thinking:
BLEASS Slow Machine was originally released on iOS and was designed to make the most of the touch screen of iPads and iPhones. The Time Stop stage in particular offers a large XY control that lets you trigger a classic tape stop effect. Touching this control will result in different time stop envelopes and duration regarding the position of your finger, which is ideal for expressive performance.
Now that the Slow Machine has landed on desktop, we’ve been experimenting with new ways to offer the same level of touch and expression with our plugin. The ROLI Lightpad Block appeared to be a great solution for both the sense of touch it offers and the flexibility of its integration possibilities.
Here’s how to use it if you’ve got a Lightpad Block:
Download BLEASS’ custom script for ROLI Blocks Littlefoot [WeTransfer link]
Save the script in the default ROLI Blocks Littlefoot location of your platform (On macOS this is ~/Documents/ROLI/LittleFoot).
Launch ROLI Dashboard; BLEASS Slow Machine should appear in the apps list. Select it and it will load the script on your Lightpad Block.
Click on edit and proceed as follow sto assign MIDI messages to BLEASS Slow Machine in your DAW:
– Set ‘Send’ to ‘Trigger Curve (X).
– Use MIDI Learn in your DAW to assign it to the parameter ‘TriggerCurve’ of BLEASS Slow Machine.
– Repeat these two steps for both ‘TriggerDuration’ and ‘TriggerOnOff’.
– Set ‘Send’ back to ‘All’ and you should be ready to go!
Don’t hesitate to contact us for any help or suggestions. [BLEASS, please, not CDM!]
Also helpful, here’s ROLI’s own video tutorial on MIDI assignment with the Lightpad Block:
Oh yeah, and I’m very curious to see people play with this, so if you do work out a performance – send it our way!
More from BLEASS: