Although I have been working Mutable Instruments’ Clouds more and more into my performance and composition, and have been watching the new granular engines announced by other manufacturers such as Mordax and 2hp, I have to admit that I’m still in love with an old piece of Mac OS7 software from 20+ years ago called thOnk. Written by Arjen can der Schoot of AudioEase, it provides almost no user parameters to adjust (basically, flowing or choppy), but created some of the most interesting results.
Most granular processors today seem to focus on behaving like crazy delays, imposing the same pitch shift (and often size and shape) onto the grains while varying mainly their timing. I think scattering the grains within a parameter range can be more effective. thOnk creates true “clouds” of grains that have different pitches, durations, and time offsets, in stereo – while still managing to flow from setting to setting like a deranged György Ligeti composition, as you can hear from the example above.
The audio file above starts with a “seed” I fed thOnk – a snippet of the Sūrat al-Fātiḥah opening chapter of the Quran – followed by nearly 10 minutes of madness created automatically by thOnk. I still have a few files created in this way that I use for odd flowing ambience-meets-vocal tracks in some of my performances.
Now, I admit I have not used every tape manipulation and granular-like processor out there; in particular, I do not have a Nebulae or a Morphogene. So if I am missing a module that can do this, please let me know! I would love to have a granular processing module that could flow like this.