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Music Of Life Beats, Breaks & Scratches

Sample CD boxed set

Music Of Life Beats, Breaks & Scratches sample CD boxed set.

With the huge sample CD catalogues currently boasted by Time + Space and AMG it's easy to forget that there are other companies at work in this field producing their own distinctive collections of breaks and samples. Music Of Life are a case in point; very much an outlet for the sampling activities of Simon Harris - the man behind the seminal '88 house smash 'Bass (How Low Can You Go)' - the company have been quietly beavering away releasing no less than 10 volumes in their Beats, Breaks & Scratches series over the past six years.

Now available as a complete boxed set, the collection is aimed primarily at DJ/producers - like Harris himself - who need extended break beats lasting minutes rather than seconds. This obviously sets them apart from conventional sample CDs featuring only short 4- or 8-bar breaks, but does mean that much fewer rhythms are included on each CD - typically 12-14. This is also reflected in the price of the disks £75 for the boxed set of ten, as opposed to the usual price of £40-£50 each for conventional sample CDs.

When you start adding things up the BB&S set actually doesn't come out too badly: a total of 125 rhythms are included along with an additional track on each disk comprising some 50 short effects and scratches - that's approximately 500 in all. Each one of the breaks lasts around three minutes, and in many cases includes fills or instrumental variations.

For the creative DJ, extended breaks are an essential tool of the trade - particularly those stripped of such 'difficult' elements as melody and instrumental lines as these are. But for musicians working without a rhythm section or under the constraints of limited sample memory this collection should also prove a god-send.

In fact, one is tempted to ask why the breaks don't extend to six and seven minutes rather than only three - we are, after all, in the realms of club music here. Also rather puzzling is MOL's assertion that the breaks have "no vocals or music" attached to them. Most of the tracks include a bassline which has to be accommodated melodically as well as rhythmically, and many also include vocal noises and short phrases which also need to be taken into consideration. This perhaps wouldn't be too much of a problem where a break is used as a foundation for a track, but it can make life very difficult if you're attempting to superimpose a break over an existing track in a different key - particularly if you don't have timestretch facilities at you disposal.

Having said that, most of the breaks benefit enormously from the inclusion of the basslines, and indeed, from all the other instrumental and vocal parts. In fact, in terms of that most elusive of qualities - 'feel' - this collection really does take some beating.

Beginning with the opening double set Breaks, Beats & Scratches Volumes 1 & 2 with its dependence on 808-, 909- and 727-generated breaks, and on through the hard-hitting house styles of Volumes 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 to the more eclectic feel of the recent Volumes 7, 8, 9 and 10, the collection includes some quite excellent material: distinctive and highly useable. That's not to say there aren't samples here you haven't heard before; this, remember, is a collection that spans some six years and which has been well plundered in that time. A number of breaks have also found there way into other collections - to the point that they have almost become 'public domain'. But for the most part the collection comprises original material which should prove inspirational across a slew of dance styles.

The individual effects and scratches are very much as we've come to expect on dance sample CDs - but no worse for that. Again, you'll hear things you've perhaps heard before, not least of which are Harris' (or is that Public Enemy's?) original 'Bass (How Low Can You Go)' samples. But you could always make it your life's work to process these out of all recognition and then try to get people to spot them in the mix.

I should point out that sample clearance has to be sought and obtained before using anything from this collection on a commercial recording. But in Simon Harris and his partner Chris France you should find yourself dealing with people who know all about the trials and tribulations of sampling and who are sympathetic to the cause.


Usefullness The extended breaks are more practical
Value for money Certainly
Price £75 inc p&p. Available by mail order only
More from Music Of Life Mail Order, (Contact Details)

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Heavenly Music Easel

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PC Publishing MIDI Survival Guide

Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Sep 1993

Quality Control

Review by Nigel Lord

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> Heavenly Music Easel

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> PC Publishing MIDI Survival ...

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