Spitfire Audio and Ólafur Arnalds’ Stratus could be unlike any piano instrument you’ve played before

Ólafur Arnalds’ Stratus ‘self-playing pianos’ have become eye-catching fixtures at the Icelandic artist’s live shows, and they’ve now formed the basis of a new product from Spitfire Audio. Also known as Stratus, this is a dynamic instrument that makes it easy to play intricate, polyphonic synth and piano patterns.

The piano parts are generated by a sophisticated network of MIDI triggers, and the Stratus interface gives you six multi-layered piano and synth matrixes, each of which offers a range of customisation options.

Spitfire says: “Stratus works by taking a single note and repeating it according to a curated rhythm, splitting the rhythm between the two self-playing pianos while at the same time relocating the note up or down the octave based on a curated level of randomness, that chooses whether or not the octave should jump.

“Where the Evo Grid technology is triggered by note range, the Stratus matrix works by voice groups - dependent on the order in which you play the notes, and how many you play.”

So, holding down a single note or chord can generate a whole world of harmonic refractions and rhythmic performances. We suspect that Stratus could be great for soundtrack work, or anyone who wants to add texture to their music.

Operating in the free Kontakt Player and the full version of Kontakt, Stratus is available for pre-order now and will be released on 19 March. It’s being offered for the introductory price of $249/£199/€249 until 9 April, rising to $299/£249/€299 after that.

Find out more on the Spitfire Audio website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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