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John von Rhein has been the classical music critic of The Chicago Tribune since 1977. During that time, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has had three music directors and Lyric Opera of Chicago four general directors. Von Rhein has covered innumerable other shifts (seismic and otherwise) on the local cultural scene, as well. Before joining The Tribune, he reviewed classical music and dance for the Akron Beacon Journal. His hobby is collecting classical music on recordings.

What is Phobos?

One of Mars’ moons? A synthesizer? A tool for creating massive cinematic and electronic rhythms? An engine for endless spectral combinations of wide, lush pads and ambiences with propulsive rhythmic figures? Is it a sound library of bespoke percussion, beats, micro rhythms, field recordings, live acoustic and orchestral treatments, textures and a massive vintage synthesizer collection? That is just scratching the surface.

At its core, Phobos is a synthesizer based on the unexplored precept of polyconvolution as a synthesis engine. BT came up with this idea many years ago doing sound design. What does that mean exactly? Polyconvolution as a synthesizer? Well, it means instead of using convolution for reverb or modeling an amplifier's distortion circuit, why not make a “reverb” impulse response tonal?

Combining something rhythmic with something tonal (as an impulse response) yielded some of the most modern, liquid and percolating ambiences and textures BT had ever heard. These are the kinds of sounds he has been searching for whilst scoring; those elusive sounds where the director asks for “movement and a feeling of drive, yet subtly”. That’s not to say that Phobos only excels at subtlety - it can sound massive, driving and aggressive, like an army of monsters in its scope and power.

In SampleTank 3 there's an acoustic guitar for every occasion. It features 6 different acoustic guitars which have been sampled to cover all possible styles and tones. These include 4 high-end American-made steel guitars (including one 12-string), 1 Italian classic and 1 vintage Brazilian Bossa Nova guitar. Each of these feature multiple velocities and articulations that let you access and express the full breadth of this versatile instrument.

For instance, the core duo of the Mississippi Sheiks, one of the most popular of these bands (and creators of the classic song “Sitting on Top of the World”), was Lonnie Chatmon on violin and Walter Vinson on guitar and vocals. And a 1928 recording by the Johnson Boys has guitarist and fiddler Lonnie Johnson at one point exhort his instrument, “Violin, sing the blues for me!”

Mix or mutate between four independent sound sources using a flexible morph matrix and a Push-ready modulation sequencer – Hypermorph offers a playful way to create rapidly changing or evolving sounds.


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