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Hollow Sun: Eventide

Put on your white coat and don’t forget your pen for Part 4 of this exclusive retrospective of Stephen Howell. takes a look at Music Laboratory Machines!

Stephen Howell was a fan of making instruments in Kontakt. Although as stated in the previously mentioned interview he left the Scripting mostly to someone else, a close collaborator and friend. This is something all right thinking entrepreneurs do. They can recognize the talents of others and capitalize on them.

In the book Why Sell Tacos in Africa, Paul Oberschneider writes that leaders should not be managers. That’s not their job. Their job is to be visionaries, and should be about the business of seeing their vision to completion.

Paul who for a few years in his youth worked the stock exchange. The party life came with it. Burnt out and still only in his twenties he decided to sell everything he had ,and with $400 in his pocket boarded a plane to Talin, Estonia. From there he went on to build a $300,000,000 business!

And this too is the kind of person Stephen was. He was happy to have work completed by those who could do it better than him.

After many years working the corporate wheel Stephen retained a sense of levity and humour which complimented his work ethic, this is also – from what I’ve read, something he ppreciated in others.

Whilst what resulted from the design and scripting could certainly be used for serious work, an example of his non overtly serious approach is this:

Hollow Sun’s ‘Music Laboratory Machines’ series brings a range of unique sound generating equipment, discrete Kontakt 4 ‘modules’ that evoke the sounds of a past future, sounds of mystery created in dark and musty laboratories by eccentric, tweedy, pipe smoking boffins in an exciting era of technological optimism, when primitive electronics were thrilling, new and indistinguishable from wizardy and music made with electricity was at the forefront of new musical thinking.

Writing the script

Image shows a screenshot of VST Kontakt in scripting mode for the article  Hollow Sun: Eventide by

Scripting is a computer programming term to describe the writing of commands within an ecosystem. In this context – that of sound creation. Scripting is used to tell the ecosystem: Kontakt what to do when it receives an input, such as MIDI or input from an interface. This custom way of working with Kontakt can provide the opportunity to make unique instruments that aren’t yet in the marketplace; or even in existence.

Scripting became a cornerstone of building and innovation at Hollow Sun Towers, and Stephen spoke of it very enthusiastically. It enabled a completely unique way of adding functionality and creating more expressive instruments. Rather than tweaking and editing an already existing set of provided parameters.

Kontakt isn’t the only ecosystem that provides this level of construction. There are others such as HISE; UVI Falcon; and the free sampler TX16Wx. Although Kontakt currently has the widest user base.

If you’d like to learn more about scripting in general: here you go: scripting-an-introduction-to-automation

Or for more specific info on Kontakt scripting here you are: create-a-resource-container

In the Lab

With his trusted and intimate set of coworkers Stephen created the Music Laboratory Machines.

The GUI (General User Interface) for many of them have an almost archaic appearance. A Steampunk styling to them.

Their palette of colours tends towards darkish grays, rusty browns and black. Copious dials, sliders and switch knobs. One can almost hear the clunk of a loud switch in a cut off corner on a suburban night and the hum that follows…

Credit: – H1 Advance Wave Signal Generator

It is as if the machines are from another time, they are still working and still in faithful service. I can imagine it would be a lot of fun to set up your DAW environment using just the MLM tools and to develop a mastery and intimacy with them. Doing this has been where I’ve had the most fun with VST’s!

In all, there are fifteen Music Laboratory Machines listed on the Hollow Sun website. I recommend taking a look at them. They have a small stamp so processing is easy street for modern computers, and they are not expensive either with the MLM bundle currently listed at £40.00.

I hope whenever necessary the Music Laboratory Machines are updated to avoid obsolescence; so they can receive successive generations of scientists who are willing to enter the lab and take them on!

If you enjoyed part four of this exclusive series Hollow Sun: Eventide, catch up on the rest: part one / part two / part three

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