Fracture Sounds – Glacier Keys
Fracture Sounds enjoyed well deserved commercial success last year with both new releases as well as welcome NKS updates to their popular Woodchester Piano and Midnight Grand.
Now they are back with their first release of 2021 with Glacier Keys, which like Midnight Grand and Dulciano also harnesses the sound of the legendary Steinway D piano, yet on this occasion they employ a creative twist to record it’s timeless beauty in an altogether different and rather innovative manner.
The Big Freeze…
Glacier Keys was recorded with the same piano and location as it’s predecessors ‘Midnight Grand’ and ‘Dulciano’, however, rather than opting for the traditional and some may say safely tried and tested method of capturing it’s natural sound, something already beautifully achieved with Midnight Grand, Fracture Sounds have novelly chosen to record the harmonics of the model D.
The technique apparently involves gently placing a finger at the halfway point of the piano string, which has the affect of transposing it’s natural pitch up by exactly one octave.
The resulting recordings were then carefully edited and delicately processed in order to preserve the warmth and richness of the original sound, but at the same time capturing the unusual tonal variation of this classic instrument, making it quite unique within it’s own realm.
Glacier Keys installs into 4.6GB of disk space, and runs in Kontakt full version or the free Kontakt Player equivalent, and is compatible with Komplete Kontrol.
Download & Installation…
Download is delivered courtesy of an archive file from a link in your purchase confirmation email, this simply needs to be unpacked and the ensuing compiled library folder placed into your preferred location.
The Glacier Keys library can then be authorised via Native Access in the usual way, and a re scan of Komplete Kontrol standalone concludes the process ready for play.
Komplete Kontrol Browser & Plug-in Edit NKS Parameters.
Knob 1 & 2 – Vendor & Product
Knob 3 & 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Type: Piano/Keys, Synth Pad
Knob 6 – Sub Type: Grand Piano,
Knob 7 – Character: Acoustic, Airey, Evolving, Lead,
Knob 8 – Presets: Glacier Keys, By The Fire, Forgotten Voices, Funky EP, Ice Plains, Muted, Soft, Underwater
Plug-In Edit NKS Mapping
Page One – Layer Volume & Microphone Positions
Knob 1 – Raw Volume (the pure Glacier Keys piano samples)
Knob 2 – Glisten Volume
Knob 3 – Frost Volume
Knob 4 – Thaw Volume
Knob 5 – Perspective
Knob 6 – Close Mic
Knob 7 – Mid Mic
Knob 8 – Far Mic
Page Two – Sound, Key Release & pedal
Knob 1 – Colour
Knob 2 – Stereo Width
Knob 3 – Atmosphere
Knob 4 – Reverb
Knob 5 – Key Release
Knob 6 – Pedal Noise
Knob 7 – Resonance
Knob 8 – Resonance Mode
Page Three – Feel
Knob 1 – Velocity Response
Knob 2 – Sample Start
Knob 3 to 8 – Unallocated
As with the two previous Fracture Sounds piano libraries, the level of accessibility offered by the NKS mapping is of a high standard, by this I mean that there are no controls in the normal user interface that are not equally mirrored within the NKS Mapping assignments, aside from selecting our own reverb impulse responses, which can easily be worked around by adding our own from a further Komplete Kontrol FX slot, or external source.
Music On Ice…
As we have mentioned, the concept behind Glacier Keys was to record it’s harmonically pitch shifted sound, and the resulting timbre does indeed set it apart from the expected traditional Steinway D natural tone.
There is quite a firm attack, which can be adjusted to taste using the sample start control.
The resulting sound has a tonality that to me slightly resembles that of an electric piano, with some pleasantly lingering harmonics in it’s sustain.
The results can be evocative, filmic and atmospheric, I can certainly envisage it’s dark melodies painting the scene for a scandinavian crime drama, the notes working well in isolation with lashings of reverb, yet still capable of commanding enough attention to punctuate a tune with a fuller orchestral backing.
Melting The Ice…
The stock sound of Glacier Keys has a good degree of adaptability , along with the sample start, there is also velocity control, and a colour parameter with it’s own bespoke EQ curve to brighten or soften the tone. Resonance allows you to apply and control the level of sympathetic resonance and further select whether it works only in conjunction with the sustain pedal, or alternatively opt to have it play permanently regardless of pedal usage.
The Stereo Width control is pertinent only to the Raw Glacier Keys piano samples, and will allow you to dial the instrument down to a single mono source, or up to a full stereo spread.
New in Glacier Keys are the microphone controls, having three microphone positions available, close, mid and far.
There is also a very convenient ‘Perspective’ control which allows you to transition between these three microphone placements with a single knob twist, which could be a useful creative feature if you perhaps wanted to automate microphone positions for certain sections of a track, for example between an intimate and far perspective.
Warm Winter Layers…
It’s great to see that one of the most popular features from the previous two Fracture Sounds piano libraries has been carried forward to Glacier Keys.
I refer here of course to the three additional sound design layers which augment the Raw instrument sounds, which add just enough warmth and atmospheric enhancement to the proceedings without singularly tagging it as being a sound design piano.
Instead it can offer the more purist piano player some artistic scope for a wider creative approach to their performances.
In this particular outing the available layers complete with suitably Wintry titles are:
consists of a shimmering metallic sound that adds a layer of twinkly sparkliness.
This will provide you with a gradually evolving reverse granular effect pad.
Originating from electric guitar feedback, this swelling harmonic pad adds movement and tonal transition to the mix.
All of the above layers can of course be mixed between, or omitted entirely from the overall master output, allowing you to create the precise ambient effect that underpins your own piano playing style.
For some additional expression, the pad layers have each been assigned to the modwheel which when actioned will soften or brighten the timbre of the layers.
The layers are not effected by the stereo width control and so remain in full stereo, however you can achieve a pleasing result by setting the Raw Glacier Keys sound to mono, which will then have the piano nestling snugly in the centre of the atmospheric pad like layers.
Frost Free Presets…
Glacier Keys ships with a handful of well crafted factory presets which have been designed to demonstrate the possible sound variations the library is capable of producing.
These range in a tonal palette that extends from small and intimate, emotive cinematic through to a more biting and funky electric piano type sound.
The presets adequately show off the dynamic range of the library, some have quite powerful bass occurring in the lower registers, while others are decidedly sparkling and crystalline in their top note ranges.
Do checkout the excellent walkthrough video by James Joshua linked at the review footer, in which he demonstrates really well the overall vibe of Glacier Keys.
In terms of accessibility, Glacier Keys offers all of the essential controls that enables us as blind and visually impaired users to edit and tweak the library to our personal liking via the assigned NKS parameters.
Pianos to pianists are like guitars to guitarists, that’s hardly the most revelationary of statements I have come up with in my reviews, however what I am meaning to say here is that when either is your go to instrument of choice, they are often important to the ear of the connoisseur, as well as being immensely collectible.
Put simply, Glacier Keys might not be the first choice for someone who is simply wanting to use a piano sound on their track, however, the originality, uniqueness and bespoke timbre of Glacier Keys is likely to make it a more refined and discerning choice for those seeking a sound that is less run of the mill.
All in all this is another very worthy edition to Fracture Sounds growing stable of well crafted and eminently playable piano libraries.
Glacier Keys can be purchased directly from the Fracture Sounds website
at an introductory price until 31st January of £49.00 (ex VAT), the Usual price will be £69.00 (ex VAT).
Fracture Sounds Homepage:
Glacier Keys – Product Page:
Glacier Keys – Walkthrough with James Joshua:
(c) Chris Ankin
January 13th, 2021
The author cannot accept any responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based solely on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product and/or gathered from official factual sources such as the developer, web or supplied product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.