- Damage, as its name suggests, is a library of percussive hits and loops with industrial carnage at its core. Shipped in boxed form on two DVDs, it's released as a collaborative effort between Native Instruments and Heavyocity. It is compatible with the former's Kontakt instrument both in "full" form, or for the free-to-download Kontakt Player. The library, once installed and unpacked, provides you with 30GB of content, with pre-made loops rubbing shoulders with individual hits layered up in construction kits. However, rather than just being a playback device for the samples and loops, the way Damage is organized allows for huge modification of the sounds and myriad opportunities to personalize the library's content.
Damage's sounds have all been recorded specifically for this library and I can only imagine it was enormous fun to put together. Among the sound sources are cars and machines being beaten to death with sledgehammers, machines grinding into one another to the point of destruction, as well as a collection of more traditional percussion instruments. These have all been bound up into Loop Menus—groups of matched sounds which work well within a particular genre, Single Loops—individual loops over which you have greater levels of control—and Construction Kits of individual hits. There are 58 kits, which draw on a bank of 200 sound sources recorded into 500 single shot elements.
The true power of this library comes to the fore when you begin exploring the options provided by NI/Heavyocity's GUI. The options change depending on which type of loop or kit you're working on, with interface pages, relevant to each, clickable in the top right-hand corner of the window. Within the Loop Menus, for instance, you'll find a Main Page, one for T(rigger)-FX and a third for EQ/Filter. On the main page, you can switch on Master Effects with modules to configure Distortion, LoFi, Reverb, Delay and Compressor settings on the left and an Amp ADSR-style envelope on the right.
In the middle, you'll find an Amp Sequencer which provides real-time "chopping" of loops via trigger keys. By default, there are six banks of these (labeled A-F) and within each bank, trigger notes A6-C7 super-impose a sliced pattern routed to the Amplifier output for as long as you hold one of those keys down. The effect is to chop up, slice, ramp or otherwise warp the playback of a loop's volume, though you can also "permanently" click one of these trigger keys on or program your own patterns to enhance the presets.
In the T-FX window, real-time performance goes up a few more gears. Here you'll find eight modules of triggerable effects mapped from C6 upwards to produce Punch, Phaser, Rotator, Lo-Fi, Glitcher, Pitch Envelope, Filter Envelope and Delay effects which, again, last for as long as you're holding a trigger key. Each module features rotaries and buttons to allow you to configure effects and you can hold down as many as you like at once to trigger your own brand of carnage.
The EQ/Filter page features a prominent amber circle which is a rotary dial to allow you to increase the "Punish" amount. This provides a program-specific combination of saturation, distortion and compression which is globally applied. To the left of this is a 3-band EQ with tweakable frequency and bandwidth controls, while resonant low and high-pass filters feature on the right. All three of these modules have orange LED switches so you only have to enable the ones you want to use.
If you're getting a sense that this is more than just a library of industrial junk percussion, that feeling grows even stronger when you load a single loop. This time, as well as having the same effect options, you can dive in to look at the loop you've loaded and make slice-by-slice edits of the sounds mapped to your keyboard. So, you can assign level, pan and tuning offsets to each individual slice, as well as switch on real-time triggers to Randomize, Freeze and Drop slices, or use B0 to automatically reverse all samples within a loop.
The construction kits are hugely versatile too. In the main page of these, you'll be greeted with a Master Mixer of sliders which allows you to blend between the Close, Room and Hall microphones used to record the samples. Any of these can be muted or solo'd and, if you know you don't need one microphone's recordings for your current track, its samples can be purged to reduce the footprint size of the current program.
Construction Kits also provide the EQ/Filter module common to the Loops but the additional page here—Stage—is remarkable. Each sample within a construction kit can be selected (simply press a key) and it will show within a 3D sound stage, offering 35 positions. Each of these allows you to blend stereo (left to right) position with space (front to back), so each sound within a kit can be placed wherever you like. Rather than having to create a sense of space by loading multiple kits and panning and reverberating huge collections of samples, you can do this within a single kit.
Damage is a bombastic library which will immediately be snapped up by sound designers and those working in composition for picture. In fact, you can expect this library to become the go-to one for action chase sequences and glitchy sci-fi textures for the next few months. However, as it's so configurable, it should prove an invaluable resource for producers of all kinds of music, with the individual hits slotting beautifully into dance records, pop productions and plenty of other genres too. It isn't cheap but it's genuinely thrilling.
Ease of use: 4.5/5