Imagine a heady combination of animals and music. If your brain immediately thought ‘hideous Disney animation’ (or, worse, that irritating song with Paul McCartney and his belching frogs), SoundForest is an ideal antidote.
Existing in a space somewhere between oddball sound toy and surprisingly capable musical instrument, SoundForest is an immediate, intuitive, and yet frequently deeply weird experience.
If a drunk Apple employee uploaded a David Attenborough tribute take on GarageBand one day, it’d probably look a lot like SoundForest.
You’re not so much creating The Birdie Song in SoundForest as a song with birdies – and other animals. (And also, in some cases, trees and rocks, because why not? It turns out mountains make for a thumping bass drum.) Across the foot of the screen is a strip of icons. Tap one and you discover what sound it makes.
You then tap slots on the pattern grid to place your chosen sort-of instrument. This is a stripped-back take on note editing found in the likes of GarageBand – you get six different pitch levels. A ‘sun’ or ‘moon’ then acts as the playhead, scooting across the top of the screen to play your notes.
Rinse and repeat and you’ll soon have a loop. Long before that, you’ll realise SoundForest is really very odd.
Ocean colour scene
During review, I first delved into the EchoOcean theme – all fish and sea life – creating something unsettling and bloopy. A quick trip to SoundForest resulted in racoons, butterflies, mountains and trees hurling at my ears The Art Of Noise hopped up on sherbet.
Next: ElectroJungle. Mandrills emit a pleasing slap bass (which may surprise wildlife experts); in tandem with peacocks and lizards, this allowed for something approximating jungle, underpined by a juddering, thick rhythm. A rainbow was then added, making the BEEEOOOO noise you used to yell when you were four and playing Battleships.
For the encore: a terrifying pseudo industrial loop constructed in SynthSavanna, with dead-eyed jungle animal icons staring out of the screen directly into my soul.