SUBVERSION BY DARK FORCE AUDIO
We are always keen to shine a spotlight on new developers, and given this, Subversion is the subject of this review, it being the debut sample library release for Dark Force Audio.
Subversion – Blazing Trails!
It is probably fair to say that Subversion is aimed (although not exclusively) at the cinematic, trailer, game & media composer, and in this respect it certainly hits the ground running with a spectacular and dynamic score ready collection of sound designed presets, which can pretty much work straight out of the box as instant cue ready sounds.
DARK FORCES AT WORK!
The mastermind behind Dark Force Audio is Tarek Mansur, who is now somewhat of a seasoned veteran in the art of both film score and trailer composition.
Tarek has an ever growing biography of credits, however he also wanted to extend his sound design skills into the realm of commercial sample library production, which will serve to put his talents into products which immediately work for the contemporary media creative.
Subversion offers composers the opportunity to quickly lay down a rich and atmospheric sound bed to which further instrumentation could be added. Equally the presets are robust and interesting enough to carry a cue on their own without further embellishment if so desired.
Subversion runs in Kontakt 6.7.1, either the full version or the free Kontakt player equivalent, and is compatible with Komplete Kontrol and NKS.
The installed library will occupy 18.6GB of disk space after compression to the NCW format, and has been Recorded in 24bit/48kHz quality.
Dark Force Audio have opted to use the Kontakt NKI preset format rather than going for the single master NKI and snapshots approach.
I do not object to this at all, as it means that we can easily load the presets into Kontakt outside of Komplete Kontrol, and have access to whatever parameters have been enabled for host automation, without the difficulties for us of loading snapshots.
DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION
I was pleased to see that Dark Force Audio have opted to license Subversion through Native Access, meaning that the authorisation, download & installation is a simple process, and can all be performed through the single application, making things very easy and accessible for us.
Once installation is finished, just load up your DAW with an instance of Komplete Kontrol and Subversion will almost immediately be ready and waiting for you to explore.
KOMPLETE KONTROL PLUG-IN EDIT NKS PARAMETER MAPPING
Page One – Layers Volume Levels(exact instrumentation varies across presets)
Knob 1 – Boom
Knob 2 – Drone
Knob 3 – Strings
Knob 4 – Air
Knob 4 to 8 – Instrumentation variable throughout all presets
Page Two – Delay/Reverb
Knob 1 – Delay On/Off
Knob 2 – Delay Dry
Knob 3 – Delay Wet
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Reverb On/Off
Knob 6 – Reverb Dry
Knob 7 – Reverb Wet
Knob 8 – Unallocated
Page Three – High Pass, Low Pass, Saturation
Knob 1 – Filter On/Off
Knob 2 – Cut-Off
Knob 3 – Resonance
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Saturation On/Off
Knob 6 – Saturation Drive
Knob 7 – Saturation Output
Knob 8 – Unallocated
Page Four – EQ Low/Mid
Knob 1 – Low Frequency
Knob 2 – Low Frequency Gain
Knob 3 – Low Frequency Bandwidth
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Mid frequency
Knob 6 – Mid Frequency Gain
Knob 7 – Mid Frequency Bandwidth
Knob 8 – Unallocated
Page Five – EQ High
Knob 1 – High Frequency
Knob 2 – High Frequency Gain
Knob 3 – High Frequency Bandwidth
Knob 4 to 8 – Unallocated
Upon first examination, there were for me, some obvious parameters that I would have expected to find within a library of this type, such as ADSR, Sample Offset, LFO or other various Modulation controls.
However after reading the manual (yes I do always eventually read the manual!), it seems that we are pretty much on an equal footing with our sighted peers.
The reasoning I concluded, was that Subversion is not really intended to be an in depth from the ground up sound design tool, despite my natural propensity for it to be one.
The presets have been crafted in such a way that we would I think be somewhat missing the point by radically altering them too much, or attempting to play the presets like a more traditional keys library.
Each one has been carefully cu rated to playout it’s evolving nature over a period of time, with the aid of your trusty sustain pedal.
Some of these samples can actually have a duration in excess of three minutes.
I can still however, perhaps see the benefit for adding some per layer pan controls, but do concede that each preset does have it’s own sonic story to tell.
THE SUBVERSION ENGINE
There can be up to eight separate instrument sound layers within a Subversion preset.
These layers and samples are not interchangeable even for sighted users, and their existence in the volume mix page varies between each preset, depending on what sounds have been chosen to construct the patch.
There are core sound groups that are used among many of the patches such as:
There is also a useful sub boom hit which lives at the very lower end of the octave range, which is helpful for adding that often needed low end emphasis for your trailer hits.
These sound groups are in most cases assigned and spread across the full 88 keys of the keyboard according to their natural pitch.
This does of course mean that if you happen to be an A25 or M32 Komplete Kontrol owner, then you will find yourself bashing the octave up and down buttons more than most in order to reach everything, but this is just the nature of the beast.
SOMETHING EVIL THIS WAY COMES!
As you may have guessed, Subversion very much endorses the Dark Force Audio ethos, leaning as it does toward the horror, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, drama,& noir genres, with it’s deep and growling braams basses, thundering booms & hits, massive choirs and atmospheric higher end sounds, which together all effectively conspire to successfully deliver the mood to your audience!
Tareks skills as a sound designer are clearly evident and well deserved as the library unfolds, becoming ever more apparent as each preset builds and morphs it’s way into something greater than it’s initial starting point.
Gradually move the modwheel, and further interesting things are likely to happen, previously low key, or hidden sounds gradually reveal themselves adding to the sonic melee.
Thoughtfully Dark Force Audio have also included a selection of handy utility based presets covering booms, hits, braams, and risers, assigned to individual midi keys.
These allow you to incorporate these individual elements either as embellishments to existing Subversion presets, perhaps on another track via another instance of the library, , or to simply just use them singularly as FX sounds within the context of your composition.
There is unfortunately no way to sync or alter the timing of the risers, so they will simply play out for the duration of their full sample length.
Overall the presets are all very well designed and polished, as mentioned the patches do evolve over time, and use of the modwheel and sustain pedal is a key trigger mechanism for exploiting this feature to the full.
Many of the core sounds are a constant throughout the course of the 81 factory presets, however never in quite the same scenario.
Particularly notable is the powerful mass choir ensemble, which instantly conjures images of Omenesque demonic goings on, interlaced with bells, booms, cello and other strings, it all adds up to a rich audio playground for all budding trailer composers.
If there are any particular instruments which you do not want in your mix, then fear not, as this can easily be remedied, as each sound layer can simply be turned down via the mixer on page 1 onf the NKS mapping, or alternatively muted if you opt to use the automatable parameters available when using Kontakt outside of Komplete Kontrol.
There are some great walkthrough videos that fully described the Subversion user experience, and as always I have linked to these at the footer of the review.
Dark Force Audio have stepped bravely into the world of high octane commercial sample libraries with this their first release.
The spectrum of user appeal could be considered by some as niche, however I would argue that there is a demand for libraries of this genre, and certainly for a first outing Dark Force Audio have risen to the challenge admirably with a well polished and gratifyingly atmospheric product.
I look forward to seeing what they come up with next, as there is undoubtedly some great creative talent and potential for some future innovative libraries on the road ahead.
Subversion by Dark Force Audio can be purchased from their website for $149 USD
Dark Force Audio Website:
Subversion – First Look:
Subversion – Walkthrough:
Subversion – Stephen O’Connell – Cmd Shift Review:
(c) Chris Ankin
5th May 2023
The author can not accept any responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this review,or Any inaccuracies found therein. All opinions and 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
Based in Buckinghamshire, England, Chris Ankin has worked as a freelance review writer and contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.
He has also successfully worked extensively in and around the music, recording, film Soundtrack scoring, Game & media composition, the creative arts, Charitable trusts,publishing, music streaming and property investments since 1982 whilst continuously and deliberately managing to evade any mainstream recognition under his own name by the use of various pseudonyms.