Review: Figure for iPhone
- Words: Glenn Jackson
MSRP: $.99, Propellerhead
Propellerhead—the maker of Reason, ReCycle, and other such noteworthy pieces of music-production software—has tried its hand in the mobile app game, releasing a simple application that is intended to fill those brief minutes of boredom and in-between moments when you just need to punch out a quick beat. The resulting program is unbelievably fun and even a little addictive, but is by no means a professional (or even amateur) music-making platform.
Figure is an app that comes with its share of restrictions, but why shouldn't it? This is a $.99 app we're talking about here. First of all, you can't save or export any songs you make in the program. In fact, once you're done with your jam and you close the app, that sequence is gone forever. Some people may take this as a major downfall, but it could also be a major selling point too—Figure is meant only to be an exercise, a fun distraction that indulges those of us who want nothing more than to fit music, music, and more music into our free time. Now, you can do so by indulging your creative side whilst putting together a quick track and then completely forgetting about it, keeping your hard drives clean of the extraneous data created by storing these fly-by beats.
There's also a finite amount of elements that one can add to a song: drums (kick, snare, hat, and one percussion element), bass, and a lead. That means no chords and no ambient layers—just the bare bones. Within these elements, there's enough to keep you busy for a few minutes, tweaking sounds and messing with various effects, but overall, Figure is pretty much a "you see what you get" kind of operation. The graphic user interface is simply seamless, incredibly intuitive, and instantly usable, and the way the various rhythms are displayed within revolving circles is not only cool to watch, but could also serve as an eye opener to the various patterns common in today's dance music. All this means you can open the program and build a track at a moment's notice, and, if you're lucky, it might even be a kind of cool track.
Truthfully, Figure is more of a game than it is a music-production tool. No one is going to make the next club smash or the answer to Burial on their iPhone, and this app isn't about to change that. Instead, it's just a great way for music nerds and curiously creative folk alike to kill a few minutes, and have more fun than they would by looking at their Facebook feed.
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