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27 March 2012

NUCLEUS SOUNDLAB PANTHEON BUNDLE | CAD$99



Equinox, by Matthew Clary, is one of the many demo songs bundled with Pantheon III

REVIEW
There we go, a nice video to kick off a post, just for a change. And we live in changing times indeed. Despite Propellerhead Software’s long-standing reluctance to entertain the notion of introducing plug-ins to the Reason rack, bear in mind this is a company that also abjured multitrack audio recording. Until the launch of Record, that is. In fact, so enthusiastic were they with such new functionality, Reason 6 was developed with audio tracking built in (goodbye Record, then). And there was even a special ‘pay what you like’ upgrade offer for existing Reason owners. Commercial suicide? Not really. It’s claimed that Reason’s userbase ballooned by some 250,000 new users, which must have been music to the ears of Canada-based music-tech wizard Jeremy Janzen, top banana at cutting-edge ReFill specialist Nucleus SoundLab.

Meantime, on this side of the pond (on the other side of the North Sea, from where I’m sitting), further hatchings have been plotted at Propellerhead HQ. Those contrary Swedes now reckon plug-ins are a good thing after all and have lately announced Re. Yes, flying in the face of reason, it’s religious education for all. Ah... Hang on, that’s ‘Rack extension’, in fact, and at the base of this post there’s an address given at this year’s Frankfurt Musikmesse by Props’ über-banana Ernst Nathorst-Böös on such. In short, software developers are being encouraged to create plug-ins for Reason’s rack in readiness for v6.5, due v soon. Thus far, GForce Software, Softube, u-he, SonicCharge, Korg, Sugar Bytes and (something of a Reason ReFill legend) Peff are on board the development wagon and more are sure to flag it down.

There’s also a new, $1 portable app coming up called Figure (Reason? Figure? See what they did there?), so you can compose while on the go. Sort of ‘go-Figure’, which is a phrase that may end up in the pitch of some marketing type someday soon. Anyway, let’s stick with religion and pose a suitably Scandinavian theological question. How many pantheons does it take to house 779 incarnations of Thor?



The answer, dearly beloved, is three. At least, it is according to the pantheistic peeps at Nucleus. Such is their eagerness to bring this belief to the masses, Combinator ReFill collections Pantheon I, II and III are available for download at a bundle price of 99 Canadian dollars (or just over 60 quid in proper money). Commercial suicide? Who knows? But it’s a ball-bouncingly attractive price for what you get: 597 Combinators featuring 779 Thor patches and a mega-dose of Subtractor and Malström patches. The controller mapping throughout is well considered, there’s PDF documentation for each ReFill and they all work in Reason 6, even though Pantheon III was launched on 7 August 2011, prior to Reason 6’s arrival. Yup, here at The Surgery, MuzoBlog medics have searched for evidence of old-version pathology and found none. Yet.

Life, y’see, is way too short and the time it’d take to analyse all that the Pantheons’ Combinators have to offer is beyond reason. Now then, as we wait for the Propellerheads to take Reason beyond with its new-found faith in Re, let’s have another video adventure, this time courtesy of sound designer Alan Fielding, he of experimental post/progressive/shoegaze rock sextet Civil Protection. The band’s debut four-track EP The Lines Are Drawn is up for download on Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon, but it doesn't feature Fielding's track Onyx. MuzoBlog, however, does...



PANTHEON I
The first Pantheon arrived back in the days of Reason 4 and was billed as the ultimate Thor ReFill. Among its 164 Combinators, toting a total of 235 Thor patches plus 28 patches for Subtractor and Malström, you’ll find physically modelled drumkits, dirty FM basses, lofty pads, chord sequences, layered bells, lead arpeggios and more, all up for hefty tweaking. With Thor's patches saved out separately, creating your own Combinators is made all the easier. So, let us see and hear how tweaky you can be by casting our minds back to 1 February 2009 for Jeremy Janzen's pertinent Pantheon pointers...






PANTHEON II
This time we’ve 173 Combinators fronting 244 Thor patches and 30 Subtractor and Malström patches. As with PI, the ReFill was developed for Reason 4, but sits just as gamely in Reason 6. It’s not just more of the same, however (“virtually no sonic overlap”, says the marketing blurb). Thor’s Step Sequencer is given a thorough mauling, there’re adventures in atmospheric washes using wavetable and FM synthesis... Ohhh, we'll have Mr Janzen explain...






PANTHEON III
Almost bang up to date, PIII is Nucleus’ foray into Reason 5 and Record, although all is well when the ReFill is loaded into Reason 6. If still stuck on a pre-5 version, then you’ll miss out on 36 of PIII’s 260 Combinators which were devised to take advantage of v5’s new facilities, including incorporation of Line 6 amp tones and Record 1.5's Neptune pitch-shifting. Jeremy was joined by sound designers Tom Pritchard, Adam Fielding, Kirke Godfrey, Clint Grierson, Shaun Wallace, Lewis Osborne and Joseph Mizelle to deliver something that looks and sounds like this...




That’s a pretty comprehensive video and audio round-up of what the Pantheon Bundle can do for your Reason leanings. As we wait patiently for Reason 6.5 and its new plugabilities, I’m going to suggest you take a serious look at Nucleus SoundLabs' highly cost-effective trio. It's capable of producing timbres that'll sit with any musical genre you care to think of and would be a powerful ally to those working in music for film and videogames. The documentation is very nicely done and, once absorbed, will doubtless encourage you to devise ever more sophisticated configurations.

The developer offers demo downloads of Pantheon I, Pantheon II and Pantheon III, each packed with MP3s for a good old earful, that you can load up, reconfigure and discover just how able the Lab is with the cunning of Reason. At a measly CAD$99, you’ve an infinite right to be satisfied with the sonics on offer. And if you can name the philosopher to whom I’ve just alluded, you win a special prize. OK, as promised, here's Propellerhead Software's Ernst Nathorst-Böös with some very interesting news for Props' lovers everywhere...