I got my hands on Vir2′s Fractured: Prepared Acoustic Guitar sample library a while back and I’ve since been loving its strange and beautiful sounds. Fractured takes a much more esoteric, avant-garde approach to acoustic guitar sampling than you’ll typically find. Instead of trying to recreate a gorgeous-sounding guitar, Fractured’s creator hit the instrument with chopsticks and erasers, placed bobby pins and shoelaces in the strings, and completely destroyed the sounds with effects and post-processing. Many of the pads, drum kits and sound effects make you quickly forget that the samples were made by an acoustic instrument of any kind, let alone a guitar.
Full disclosure: I’m friends with the creator, Brendan Hogan, and I wrote one of the demo tracks on the Vir2 site in exchange for an NFR copy of the library. That being said, I’ve tried to be completely honest here and point out any flaws I found alongside the positive features.
Here’s the aforementioned demo track I created for the Vir2 website, using only patches from Fractured. At the time I created this, I didn’t even have Kontakt 5 yet, only the free Kontakt 5 Player, so the patches are all unedited Fractured presets. As you can hear, there’s a lot of variety here:
Obviously, the core of any sample library is its patches, and Fractured has a lot of them. Its 2.3 gigabytes of content is divided up into the usual subsets you see in a library of this type: Chromatic Kits, Drum Kits, Melodic, Pads & SFX and Tempo Synced. As you can see, two of the six categories are drum-related, so there are a lot of percussive sounds on offer. And indeed, some of the drum sounds are amazing and extremely un-guitar-like.
As you might expect, there aren’t a whole lot of realistic cymbals to be found, and truly deep kick drums are lightly represented as well. On the whole the percussive sounds run more toward the offbeat, so if you’re looking to mimic a real drum kit you’d be better off searching elsewhere. But nonetheless, it’s easy to put together an impressive beat in a matter of minutes. One surprise I found was the Impacts kit, which features huge cinematic hits suitable for Godzilla attacks and meteors crashing to earth. How Brandon got those out of a guitar is anyone’s guess (lots of reverb and a bass enhancement plugin?) but they sound amazing. Another fun toy is called By Hand, which lets you hold down chords with your left hand and play a beat with your right. The chords don’t sound until you strike with your right hand, and the effect is that of tapping out a rhythm on the back of a guitar while fretting chords—an impossible feat in real life without a nimble friend or very dexterous toes.
Fractured has some really interesting patches in the melodic and pad categories. You can’t approach them the way you would synth patches or you’re likely to be disappointed. As this is prepared acoustic guitar library, many of the melodic patches were made by striking the strings and therefore are quite percussive. Most don’t have the sustain that synth patches do, and many are more suited to enhancing the attack of a melody than to playing one themselves. The pads are equally light on long, beautifully-sustained notes, although there are some patches like that on offer. If you’re looking for a lush string patch you won’t find them here. Where Fractured excels is on odder, more sound-designy tones, and you’ll find a lot of presets with a bite and an edge that you won’t see in more traditional libraries. One other thing I noticed: there’s a good bit of crossover between the Melodic and Pad categories. Many of the pads serve as excellent melodic patches, and vice versa, although you may need to play with the attack and release settings.
The only noticeable technical issue I had probably had more to do with the Kontakt 5 Player than with the library itself. When I was creating the demo track above, one of the patches had a crackling sound much like you get when the I/O buffer in your DAW is too small. I tried all the usual fixes for such problems with no luck. I ended up having to bounce small chunks of the part at a time and then piece together a clean track from there. When I open the same project with the full version of Kontakt 5, the crackling has disappeared. Since my system is otherwise the same I can only assume that the Kontakt Player was the culprit. (I also checked it out with Brandon and he said he had no problems playing my project on his system and hadn’t heard of anyone else having the same issue.)
Fractured lists for $150, which in my opinion is a great price for the variety of sounds you get. As I mentioned, this library doesn’t have everything, but then that’s not the point. Vir2 set out to create a library of creative acoustic guitar destruction, and there are some wonderful and useful sounds here. If you mostly create acoustic or orchestral scores this may not be the library for you. But if you’re like me and are always on the lookout for unusual sounds that don’t seem synthesized, then Fractured would be an excellent addition to your library.