Best Service Celtic Era Review – More Sonic Brilliance

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MusicTech’s favourite master sound designer Eduardo Tarilonte is back with a Celtic Era, a new collection that delves into our local history. Andy Jones saddles up…

Best Service Celtic Era

Price €259
Contact Best Service

Celtic Era key features:

  • Traditional Celtic instrument library
  • 18-GB-heavy library with more than 18,000 24 bit/ 44,1 kHz samples
  • 23 brass, string and percussion instruments
  • Three additional instruments from the Bronze Age: Cranyx, Cornu and War Horns
  • All recorded with multisamples with dynamic graduations, articulations, round robin and real legato samples as well as dedicated glissando samples
  • Requires Best Service ENGINE 2 Sample Player which is included
  • System requirements Win 7+, 32- & 64-bi; Intel Core 2.0GHz, 2GB RAM. Mac: OS10.9, 2GHz, 2GB RAM

If you don’t know who Eduardo Tarilonte is then you probably haven’t been reading MusicTech for very long. He is the ultimate sound designer, the creator of classic and fantastical libraries used by composers the world over. He’s the equivalent of the Simon Cowell of the audio production world, and also a bloody nice bloke (not that I’m saying Cowell isn’t).

Over the last half dozen or so years we’ve reviewed a lot of his libraries which either explore the histories of certain eras or delve deep into magical worlds with, rather more pretend histories. Either way, he makes them very real experiences, with extraordinary attention to recording detail.

I’ve reviewed many of Eduardo’s titles myself, so admit to being a bit of a fanboy. My own personal favourites are Era 2 and (still!) Shevannai: The Voice of the Elves from which I used the atmospheric pads on just about every one of my tunes over the last few years, inventing my own ‘Spiritual House’ genre along the way. (This did happen, it just hasn’t quite taken off yet…keep your eye on the charts) Tarilonte’s new collection is Celtic Era and we can expect atmosphere. And jigs. Lots of jigs.

The Celts are coming

The Celts covered a lot of Europe back in the day so Eduardo has a lot to play with (and play, and record) although the focus here is on perhaps what you might expect, the Irish side of Celtic music, so you get flutes, harps, pipes, guitars, fiddles and, of course, Bodhran drums.

There are 23 instruments in all, with lots of dynamic variations recorded across several articulations. Tarilonte has also managed to get his hands on some pretty dusty, possibly never recorded before instruments: the Carnyx, Cornu and War Horn which expert musician Abraham Cupeiro played for the recordings.

The whole collection was recorded at Eldana Studios in Spain with top Irish musicians including Karen Hickey (fiddle); Carlos Martín Aires (acoustic guitar, Irish Bouzouki, tenor banjo); Martino Vacca (Uilleann pipes, Irish flute, whistles); Jean Yves Magre (Highland pipes); and Pablo Vergara (Bodhrans). Tarilonte even played some of the instruments himself, including Concertinas and Celtic harps. Madrid-based Kahayan Pro-Audio supplied both the mics and preamps for the sessions.

The results is a collection that you can buy as a download or boxed product and is a total of 18GB. You’ll need the Best Service Engine to play it – rather like Kontakt – but that’s included for free. You download the files as .RAR files, move them to your location of choice and then you’ll need to activate them using Engine.

Again, anyone who has used Kontakt will be familiar with the process: simply head to preferences and add the library but rather than having something like NI’s Native Access software handle the process you have to do a challenge and response to activate the library – a bit of a faff but not hard.


Do I really need this?

This isn’t one of those libraries that most people will specifically need per se, unless of course they are a soundtrack composer for a series on the Celts, say, or are writing the theme to a historical drama.

Best Service Celtic Era - Main Screen

However that’s not to say you won’t find it a useful collection for other areas of music production, such is the quality of the recording throughout and the variety of instruments within Celtic Era. So ’need’ is perhaps not the answer, but ’want’ is!


Getting jiggy with it

So to the instrument and you can load from six categories: Ancient, Keyed, Percussion, Soundscapes, Strings and Winds. Starting with the Ancient we immediately hit those ancient Carnyx, Cornu and War Horn sounds which you may not feel you would know but might go ’ah yes!’ when you hear them.

The Cornu sounds quite cornet-, or trumpet-like while the Carnyx is a mellower ’calling’ horn with a dozen or more variations – all very evocative and some of which remind me of the atmosphere that trumpeter Mark Isham bough to early David Sylvian recordings.

In the Keyed section are just a couple of Concertinas – we’re not talking about a style renowned for too many keyed instruments, I guess. Moving on to the Percussion section we find the mighty Bodhran, full of rhythms, fills, and hits to back any sea shanty jig.

It’s excellent stuff and there’s plenty to build complete rhythmic backings with. The Acoustic folder contains a superbly recorded acoustic guitar complete with individual fingered and plucked samples and a good variation of strumming.

It’s here that you will also find the Fiddle folder, full of great recordings of individual notes and phrases, although I could have done with even more of the latter (or am I just being greedy?). The Irish Bouzouki – that’s the guitar with the long neck and more rounded body – is another stand-out in this folder. Finally, the Banjo sounds rich and dynamic.

The last instrument folder is Winds which contains everything from flutes to Highland Pipes, again excellent recordings and lovely little variations found on the green keys. These keys also come into their own with the Highland pipes, producing the constant bass note to create the most impressive bagpipe sounds ever to come out of a computer.

My favourite folder though, is Soundscapes, as it always is with a Tarilonte collection. It’s where he lets his imagination go wild, unconstrained by any single instrument or playing style to produce atmospheric pads that will take your breath away.

Here, from Celtic Winds to Burial Mounds, from Druids Temples to Highland Echos, you are taken to far-flung places and they are so good that, as ever, I want more, or the very least a complete Tarilonte Soundscapes instrument…

Conclusion

This is a beautiful set of instruments and phrases and you wonder where Eduardo can possibly go next. Somewhere out of this world, I’m betting. But until then, blow the war horns and get ready to ride into a sonic battle!.


Alternatives


Best Service Celtic Era alternative - Zero-G Celtic

Zero-G
Celtic £52.24

Who’s have thought that there are other Celtic specific tools? This is more like a sample library than instrument, though, with 900MB of pipes, strings and percussion with ’an enormous range of solo riffs and phrases’.

Best Service Celtic Era alternatives - Various Samples

Various
Sample collections from £24.95

There are other samples collections from various companies that cover all things Celtic: Celtic Harp, Celtic Vocal Sample Library and Celtic from www.loopmasters.com, www.samplephonics.com, and www.bigfishaudio.com

9 MT Choice

+ Sublime recordings
+ Fantastic range of instruments
+ All the Celtic flavours you’ll ever need
+ Lovely variations and phrases
+ Instant jig creation!
+ Some rare instruments
+ Very easy to use

– Could do with a few more phrases on some instruments (and more atmospheres, of course!)

It’s another incredible journey with Eduardo to mystical lands with evocative instruments, authentic playing and phrasing, excellent recording quality and a real sense of Celtic atmosphere. And yet another MusicTech award for the ultimate sound designer…

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About Author

Andy Jones

Andy Jones has an MA in Music Technology and has been writing about it for 25 years. He has launched and edited several magazines on the subject and was editor of MusicTech for the last four years. Naturally, he has far too many synthesisers...

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