In this review, we are going to be going over other Native Instruments’ new Reaktor 6 virtual instrument, called FLESH (also included in KOMPLETE 11).
Flesh is a synth for Reaktor that is created by cooperation between Tim Exile and the people at Native Instruments and was mainly designed for live performances and quick inspirational moments.
FLESH takes your samples and uses their transients and frequency content to trigger the other synths and FX to create harmonic content that keeps in sync with the sample you put in allowing you to almost instantly create those inspirational moments we all hope to get while we are creating our music.
First of the interface looks deceptively simple but don’t let that fool you because there is some pretty neat stuff just hiding beneath the surface of those five lovely colorful circles on the interface which also function as volume faders and have a fun visualization of the waveform each synth is playing.
Each of these orbs has multiple pages attached to them allowing you to manipulate not only the way they sound but the way they are triggered this allows you to create new songs from old samples in no time at all.
The Samples Page
The Samples Page is where you start out your musical journey in Flesh as this is where you load the samples you wish to manipulate shape and mangle into a new song. You can load up to twelve different samples each with its own controls for Threshold, Bars, Steps, Offset and gain allowing you to create twelve variations of one sample or mix and mash samples to create a totally different feel at each press of a key.
Threshold: sets how many slices that you want to have in your sample once a transient reaches the threshold a slice is made and these slices affect the way the sound generators are played.
Bars: This lets you play your sample over the time of one bar up to sixteen bars letting you really shorten or stretch out your sample over time.
Steps: controls how many steps there are in a bar and has a range of 4 steps up to 32 steps per bar.
Offset changes the starting point of the sample.
Gain: is used to balancing the level of the sample being used.
The Sub Engine Page
The Sub Engine gets its triggers from one of two sources to harmonize with the Monosynth and the Polysynth and setting either of these sources to listen to either the treble frequencies or the bass frequencies of your sample. The Sub Engine will give you some nice low-end bass tones that follow along with the rest of your track.
The Sub engine does not have many controls just Spectrum, Character, Length, and Level controls. However, there are sufficient to bring in some nice low-end tones without drowning out the other synths.
Spectrum: Ads harmonics to the sub tones where higher values bring in higher harmonics and a low value brings in deeper harmonics.
Character: Use it to control the amount that the sub-harmonics are being affected by the pitch (making the Sub synth sound more or less pronounced).
Length: Controls the length of time the sub synths notes are played for giving you either long more decayed notes or short punchy ones.
The Monosynth in Flesh rebuilds the wavetable that it has gotten from your sample and transforms it into a Monophonic Lead or sequence. The mono synth can be set to listen to the high and low frequencies in your sample by selecting ‘treble clef’ or the ‘bass clef’ on the left of the synth.
Having the mono synth listen to different frequencies in your sample is a lot of fun and can give you instantaneous changes in the melody it creates. These changes, however, need to be kept in tune with the rest of your song which is done by setting the Root note of the melody with the root control and introducing more or less of that melody is done with the ‘melody knob’.
The Monosynth has sixteen presets to play with: MONOBROW, MONOGAMY, MONOMANIAC, MONOCYCLE, MONOCHROME, MONOLITH, MONONOM, MONONOV, MONONONO, MONOCOQUE, MONOPOD, MONOCULT, MONOTONY, MONOFFCUTS, MONOGRAM, and MONOCLE and even though they might sound similar by name that does certainly not mean they sound similar coming out of your speakers as they do each have their own character.
The controls are kept simple and similar across the pages with the Spectrum, Character, Length, and Mod controls showing up on all of the synths and the sample player with just a few extra controls that change according to which preset you use on the Monosynth this really helps with keeping a complex device simple and easy to use.
The Sample Player
The Sample Player in Flesh also has sixteen unique presets from Beatnik, Streetbeat, Culturebeat, Deadbeat, Beatmash, Meatbash, Beatsme, Killabeat, Megabeat, Gigabeat, Terabeat, Beatabout, Backbeat, Downbeat, Upbeat, and Sidebeat (like the Monosyth). Use them to change the timbre and character of the sample that you have dragged in, also affects the way the other synths are triggered.
The Mix control on the left of the device crossfades between the low-frequency content and the high-frequency content of your original sample (nice for when you want to lead into a quieter section of your song).
The Polysynth in Flesh is a Resonating Granular Synthesizer that transforms the signal that triggers this synth into chords and is really fun for creating a harmonic foundation for your track.
This synth also has sixteen presets to play with: Polyticks, Polygamy, Polymorph, Polyease, Polyheist, Polyphoney, Polygon, Poligargch, Polynomial, Polyglot, Polyflower, Polyphilla, Polykilla, Polymer, Polyparrot and Polynot which really sound great and add their own unique character to your track.
The FX Page
All of the synths except for the sub-engine can be routed through the FX engine which is a Dub Delay on steroids with two tempo-synced delay lines, Filtering, and Limiting. These can then be affected by the modulation curves extracted from your sample, giving you a really powerful rhythmic FX tool to play with.
As with the synths in Flesh the FX engine has sixteen presets to play with: Foenix, Freax, Fonix, Frolix, Flex, Felix, Fxsake, Fallanx, Forex, Folx, Friedx, Fxpress, Flax, Fax, Fox, and Fix, each giving you different tonal effects from the weirdly wobbly to reverberation madness and a few things in between (quite a powerful FX tool and really fun to play with).
The Harmonization Page
The Harmonization Page in Flesh is the place where you can set the notes that are going to be played by the Sub, Monosynth and Polysynth. Build your own sequences and chords with just a few clicks of your mouse. You can choose from eight chord presets: Keynius, LowKey, Keytar, Monkeys, Turkeys, Keymono, Khakey and Key.
In Flesh you get to create a lot of variations to your sound with twelve slots to save to for each section. So, twelve variations on harmonies, twelve variations of samples used, and twelve variations of the sounds you are using with the other synths. It’s easy to understand why Native Instruments claims that you can make a full song out of one sample and that claim has been substantiated with Flesh.
As for modulation of the synths and FX you are able to control almost all parameters with an LFO, envelope, or mod-wheel. The LFO has a range of 4 bars all the way to 3/64th this adds some nice movement in your sounds.
Adding macros and remotes is also extremely easy in Flesh, which makes this instrument extremely versatile when playing live as all of the controls can be mapped to a MIDI keyboard.
In conclusion, FLESH is a great instant inspiration machine and live performance synth all rolled into one powerful Reaktor tool. Like with Form (another synth ensemble for Reaktor 6) Flesh does wonders for your old sample folders as this synth manages to breathe new life into them in new and exciting ways. Just pick a sample and transform it into a new song idea or even a full song in minutes!
- Instant inspiration machine.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Great for live performances.
- Great for happy accidents but becomes difficult when you want to be precise with what notes are played and when they are played. But practice makes perfect I guess.
FLESH Reaktor instrument is available via Native Instruments website priced at $99 / 99 €. Runs in the free REAKTOR 6 PLAYER or the latest version of REAKTOR 6
More Details: FLESH