App Review: Scape – Collaborating Creatively with Technology

By Lisa Bernier

A.I. creeps ever closer, and the latest proof is producer Brian Eno’s new iPad app Scape.

The third collaboration between Eno and Peter Chilvers, (former apps produced from their partnership include Bloom and Trope), Scape helps you to create ambient music that never sounds the same twice. Using specific “rules” for each sound, the app “thinks” to combine different tunes and sounds to generate new music each time you use it.

With extremely colorful interfaces, the app opens to a screen that gives you five different options. You can listen to or create a scape or playlist. You can also listen to an album—or you can re-listen to the introduction. There is a Help tab in the upper right hand corner, and a More Options one in the bottom right.

Depending on what you choose, the app will take you either to a scape or a playlist. You can add scapes to a playlist easily by tapping on those that already exist.

The app comes with 15 original scapes, and as you can create more based on those 15 (or ask the app to give you a random scape), the possibilities are endless.

The app also has the ability to play while other apps are being used (except on the first-generation iPad), and you also have the option to email different scapes you create to other people. Scape supports both AirPlay and Retina display.

Since the app solved its recent crashing problems, it is fairly dependable as background music. Options that would be nice for future developments are the ability to name the scapes you create (they are currently listed numerically, such as Scape 1, Scape 2, Scape 3, etc.). The app also lacks the ability to create a time limit on a scape, or the option to add your own sounds. At the moment, you work with the basic scapes you have, and can create and add based on those—you are unable to upload original sounds.

The app is also only currently available on the iPad, which greatly limits its reach. Costing $5.99 on iTunes, it would be interesting to see if an expansion to the Android Market (or even the iPhone) would further boost its popularity.

For the music lover or the composer, Scape is a great app to own. Clearly going beyond the basic elevator or party music, Scape works with you to create different and original sounds. The possibilities are endless, and you can spend hours listening to different scapes, or arranging them to create something entirely new. While it may not be the best for the average party DJ (or playlist), for a tinkerer of sound, Scape will provide many hours of enjoyment and creativity.