No one quite knows, but the demo sure sounds interesting
We’ll just let the company’s press release speak for itself, so to speak:
LONDON, UK: Spitfire Audio is proud to announce availability of BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS — duly designed to immerse producers, composers, and beat-makers in the tape-drenched world of renowned Brooklyn-based composer and electronic musician Tyler Gilmore (a.k.a. BlankFor.ms) as an aptly named unique-sounding, deeply-sampled software instrument anchored around a vast (~10.5GB), inspiring collection of mind-bending dreamlike sounds and unpredictable, multi-layered textures, dripping with vintage analogue warmth and nostalgia, thanks to the radically transformative processed signal featuring over 150 layers of tape and granular processing across 28 main presets presented in the sound- specialising British music technology company’s award-winning AAX-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-compatible, NKS (Native Kontrol Standard)-ready plug-in that loads into all major DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) without the need for any additional software — as of August 18…
As a living, breathing machine of complex sonic metamorphosis spanning multiple genres, BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS pushes the tone-shaping magic of tape to its limits, harnessing its Brooklyn-based BlankFor.ms namesake’s enviable collection of classic and unique tape machines, pedals, and unusual gear, coupled with bespoke experimental processing techniques to create a kaleidoscopic range of multidimensional textures that change and grow beneath its user’s fingertips. For through BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS, Tyler Gilmore (a.k.a. BlankFor.ms) shares his unique creative process and lifelong passion for the world of tape and its endless spectrum of sonic possibilities — from lo-fi digital grit and playful stabs, plucks and bells through to Eighties neon-lit, retro pads, gamer’s nostalgia, and woozy, shimmering euphoria. While working out of his Brooklyn-based studio, the artist uses a range of degraded tape machines run through rare and classic pedals, tone- shaping devices, vintage delay chips, and other unusual equipment, spanning Sony’s once-ubiquitous Walkman (starting its revolutionary life in 1979 as a culturally- changing portable cassette player before the brand was extended to serve most of the Japanese giant’s portable audio devices) to a 1981-vintage Library of Congress C1 cassette player (featuring some unique features, making it an interesting tool for experimenting with cassette tapes), and a range of TASCAM Portastudio 4-track cassette recorders (famed for jumpstarting the home recording revolution), as well as a modular (synth) system — all heavily mangled and processed via tape splicing, pitch-shifting, generative techniques, analogue saturation, filtering, distortion, granular synthesis, and more.
Perfectly positioned to provide further insight into the creativity of working with tape, Tyler Gilmore himself says, “To my ear, tape introduces a deep, organic version of chaos. It brings a level of randomisation in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Pitch [tape speed], filtering, and level are all subject to constant variability. It occurs to the brain as a hazing effect when used lightly, and disorienting when intensified. We have become so accustomed to digital audio and its pristine perfection that tape’s magic has a new sort of value. It brings something more tactile — more alive — to the tones.”
But BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS subsequently grew out of its creator’s vision of ‘only’ passing basic synth tones through each tape machine, which users could then scroll through using the mod wheel, to include complex synth tones, delay circuits, analogue distortion circuits, and effects pedals passed through various signal chains for degradation, flavour, colouration, and vibe.
But better still, the resultant unique-sounding, deeply-sampled software instrument — presented in Spitfire Audio’s award-winning AAX-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3- compatible, NKS-ready plug-in that loads into all major DAWs without the need for any additional software — allows its users to move between up to seven layers of tape and granular processing on each preset, featuring over 150 layers across the 28 main presets — PADS (x10), KEYS (x12), and ARP (x6), while wide-ranging inbuilt controls — EXPRESSION (adjusts the level of the technique), DYNAMICS (allows users to move between multiple layers of varied processing, including tape machines, vintage delay circuits, analogue distortion, and granular synthesis), ATTACK, DECAY, SUSTAIN, RELEASE, REVERB (allows users to select between alternative reverb types, choosing between a bespoke collection of seven impulse responses, ranging from short studio and rooms to long, cavernous churches and halls), and START POINT (cuts further into the note) — offer endless analogue inspiration and exploration, effectively.
It is fair to say, then, that BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS has what it takes to transform the wonderful world of soundscapes — from woozy, dusty lo-fi atmospheres to rich, multi-tonal granular synth textures that will haunt and glisten, regardless of whether used by pop producers, electronic remixers, beat-makers, or composers writing their next indie or game score.
Says Tyler Gilmore: “Imagine that dusty unmarked cassette you find in a thrift store… lush tones hidden behind a veil of tape degradation, distortion, and magnetic saturation. There’s something magical about how each tape machine filters, destabilises, and saturates whatever is recorded onto it.”
Duly designed to encourage sound design, BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS showcases 138 presets — including no fewer than 110 made by BlankFor.ms — as a starting point, offering users as many opportunities as possible to make the sounds their own. If it is instantly usable sounds straight out of the box being sought after or, conversely, hours spent getting lost in analogue inspiration then BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS surely succeeds in its musical mission of introducing new and unpredictable colours and textures to anyone’s sonic palette.
Put it this way: “I don’t know of another software instrument quite like this… once the Spitfire [Audio] team built out the first draft, we knew we had something incredible.” So says Tyler Gilmore by way of a fitting conclusion. BLANKFOR.MS – TAPE SYNTHS is available as an AAX-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-compatible plug-in supporting Native Instruments’ NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) for Mac (OS X 10.10 – macOS 11) and Windows (7, 8, and 10 — latest Service Pack) that loads directly into any compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for an RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of only £49.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$49.00 USD/€49.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from here: