Review – Shimmer Shake Strike with Expansion from In Session Audio
For your consideration: a Kontakt Player percussion pattern library that will put some “Shimmer” in your life and on your tracks!
by David Keenum, Jan. 2018
Do you remember when you “discovered” loops? My discovery was Acid by Sonic Foundry (now carried by Magix) and Acidized loops. It was so cool! And it was easy! And it sounded great! And I could get creative! Then I began to see the limitations, and the work-arounds you need to do. Tempo and pitch were issues. Plus you were left with the part the loop maker gave you. Yes, you could edit the loop, sometimes creatively, and there were people who made music careers by doing that. But if you needed something quick it could be hit or miss. You had to audition loops until you found something that fit. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but you get my point. It was great, but it had its limitations.
Well, like everything else in music technology, looping developed, and In Session Audio’s Shimmer Shake Strike is a prime example. As far as I can tell, all of In Session Audio’s products use an advanced development in looping technology. Much of it, but not exclusively, is devoted to guitars. Now let’s take a look at Shimmer Shake Strike.
Shimmer Shake Strike is exactly what its title suggests: A Kontakt Player library of percussion grooves, rolls, and one-shots of instruments that you shake or strike, specifically shakers, cowbells, tambourines, and other small hand percussion. And it’s mainly patterns, although you can play the individual slices yourself if you should choose to do so. Relatively simple idea, right? Yes, it is simple, but the “magic” is in the execution of this idea.
Installation and Getting Started
On the Mac (4 GHz Intel Core i7 16 GB), installation was straight forward using the Native Access Application. There is a .pdf included that gives step by step instructions on how to do this. You can get started immediately, but the videos are a tremendous help. The link is provided in your purchase, but the videos are on In Session Audio’s YouTube page, so you can watch them anytime you like. I, of course, got started playing right away, but afterward I watched the videos and it was worth the time. Each video is only a couple of minutes long.
Instruments and Patterns and Presets
There are ten different shaken Tambourine instruments, the “Shimmer,” 24 Shakers, the “Shake,” and 33 struck percussion, the “Strike.” The instruments range from basic to somewhat exotic, and they do provide a lot of variety. Each patch has eight different patterns with each pattern having between two and 64 steps. In addition, there are one-shots available for each instrument and rolls for the tambourines and shakers. Finally, there are 184 presets, arranged in 3/4, 4/4, 4/4 triplet, 5/4, and 6/8 time signatures, as well as a folder of presets called “High End Grooves.” These range from Latin-sounding to funky. Definitely inspiration starters!
The interface has three main pages: Main, Pattern, and Mixer. The main page is a picture of the instruments currently playing. The Pattern page allows you to edit or change the pattern and edit the tambourine and shaker rolls. The Mixer page allows for editing Pitch, Tone, EQ, Delay and Reverb. You can adjust volume and pan on any of the three pages.
Now that I read the previous two paragraphs, I think it makes Shimmer Shake Strike sound complicated. It is not. Once you understand the three main pages, how to change instruments, and how to select a preset, you’re ready to make music. The videos get you there in a few minutes, and if you are adventuresome, just go for it!
Easy – that’s the word that comes to mind. I can’t really think of anything easier. Just load it and go. But let me be clear, these are not loops, at least not the way we’ve known loops. I went as slow as 60 bpm and as fast as 180 bpm. It still sounded fine. And that brings up another feature: when the tempo gets fast, the pattern may sound better at half speed. In the upper right-hand corner of the GUI is a “1/2” button that does that. Again easy.
The quality is natural. The instruments sound like they should sound: well-played and well-recorded. I didn’t hear anything odd, even at fairly extreme tempos. This in itself is an impressive feat! The general patterns were pretty standard for the instruments. Again, they were appropriate to the instrument. And, of course, they can be easily customized as much as you desire.
I feel I should point out that you can use Shimmer Shake Strike for a single percussion instrument. Simply mute the other two instruments. So you can use it for a simple handclap backbeat or a complex part. Dare I say it again? Why not? Easy! And cool! And creative! Wait, wasn’t that what I thought when I first discovered looping? Well, yes it was. We’ve come full circle.
Details for Shimmer Shake Strike
In Session Audio
Price – $99 USD for the standard version; $139 USD for the expanded version.
Software: Shimmer Shake Strike runs in Kontakt or the free Kontakt Player 5.6.8 or higher (requires a minimum of Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.10).
Access: A stable internet connection for library download and activation is required.
Copy Protection: Custom Watermarked.