When looking for someone to develop new software toys on its behalf, Native Instruments couldn't have chosen anyone better than Tim Exile.
His first collaboration with the German software pioneers produced The Finger, a Reaktor-hosted plug which allowed for wonderful effect mayhem to be configured and then triggered over MIDI, its results proving popular both in the studio and onstage. The collaboration has now borne its second fruit, this time in the form of The Mouth.
Promising conversion of audio input signals of any type into pitched, vocoded or multi-harmonised results, on paper this sounds like another title to inspire creativity. But does theory convert to practice?
The engine behind The Mouth does something fantastically complicated but presents its findings in an intuitive and easy-to-use way. Any incoming audio is analysed and immediately auto-tuned so that pitch is determined quickly regardless of the source material.
This pitched result can then either be played back 'as detected' or tuned to any scale you like over a keyboard so that melodies or harmonic parts can be built up.
On one level, this means you could use it as a harmoniser for vocal phrases by creating supporting harmonies under a recorded vocal phrase. However, you can go further, by feeding drum loops into it to turn these into musical phrases or sequences.
This is possible as The Mouth combines clever detection algorithms, converting volume thresholds into equivalent relevant pitches (quieter = lower, louder = higher, for instance) and you can control a whole range of supporting parameters, deciding the pitch width of the resulting sequence between just a few closely related notes or spread wildly across several octaves.
Control your mouth
The Mouth's GUI is dominated by the blue Mixer section where the original audio's input signal and four other parameters, triggered by its detection, are blended to your choosing.
These are a Synth generator, a Vocoder signal, a separate Bass generator and an FX channel. All four are 'post-fader' in that the Input slider can be at zero without affecting the others which is just as well, as this is often when results are most interesting.
Clicking the name button of each of these sections launches a matrix below from which you can choose from a range of sound 'types' specific to each category. To the left, eight knobs control Brightness, Resonance, Thickness, Harmony, Attack, Sustain, Release and Nonsense, the latter of which behaves randomly and often inspirationally.
The all-important Threshold slider lies across the top of the interface - the further left this is, the more input signal passes through into The Mouth's assorted processes.
You can dive in a little deeper still, by clicking the note button, which allows access to additional parameters.
We love tools which inspire creativity and whose results are unique - both of which are key features of The Mouth. It combines autotuning with harmonising, both of which are 'known' technologies but thereafter, you're into uncharted territory.
Hearing beats converted to Rave sequences or hearing repetitive vocal phrases re-born via massed harmonies is wonderful and The Mouth continues to bring surprises even after hours are lost to its charms.
It runs through the free-to-download Reaktor Player and costs just 69 Euros. Three words - get it now.
Now listen to our audio demos to hear The Mouth in action:
Arp Filter Movements