Chris Lang and Prosonus have put together a collection of 500 drum loops on one CD, which has been out in the US since sometime last year. The literature says the loops are all "licence free", implying that they have been created fresh. Maybe, but by the fifth loop I'm sure I'd heard a quote from 'Remain In Light'. Loops seem to be a mixture of programmed single hits and loop fragments of varying length. Only a few are in stereo, and most are dry.
Presentation is one of this CD's strongest points. There are around six loops to a track, and a lady counts them out so you know exactly where you are. Time out between loops is always exactly the same, and all loops go round twice, so sequential sampling has never been easier. The sleeve classifies loops as follows: Track 02/Index 1.. 2.. 3, etc, Tempo 105, Code: Rap 001. There is also some space after each code name to enable you to enter your own notes on the subject. Loops are one or two bars in length. The sleeve notes don't tell you which, unfortunately.
The CD kicks off with 104 'Rap' loops — I've heard a few of these on records already. These pan seamlessly into 110 'Hip Hop' loops. So far most loops have been good, solid, traditional efforts. Voices are pretty unadventurous: not many of these will make your track stand out from the crowd, though they could give your tune a solid backbeat. Most are new, but they're not vastly different from what you've heard before. Track 32 is one of the exceptions that proves the rule: Index 5 finds a neat reversed bell sample chugging away.
Track 35 opens with an almost unadorned old favourite (we are by now into the nine-sample 'Go Go' sector). What was that they said about "licence free? Track 36 sees the start of an 84-sample 'House' loop set — plenty 909 and four-on-the-floor. Again the loops are workhorse rather than challenging, and though a few old favourites are sneaked in under the radar, most are freshly programmed. Same goes for the 111 (how ironic — England have just lost the series) 'Techno' loops that follow. Tracks 60, 61, and 64-68 are well worth a second look from ravers. To compensate, track 62 is particularly threadbare.
There follows a collection of 89 'Industrial' loops, which initially differ in character from the 'Techno' ones only slightly. (One or two are a bit 'bangier', I suppose.) Careful with 79/05: it seems to be panned way to the left for no apparent reason. 'Funk Rock' takes us out, with 15 more loops making up the numbers.
When first I listened to this CD I was quite impressed. The loops sounded clean, and there was quantity as well as quality. On reflection, though, I feel that Megabass' collection of 200 or so is much more up-front and exciting. Prosonus Volume 1 sounds rather tame by comparison, and a significant minority of the programming seems decidedly sticky rather than groovy. Also I'd have liked to have heard a wider palette of voices used. Then again, if you are an avid loop collector, many of these are not available on other sample CD releases. While there are few monsters ready to blow your audience away, there are plenty of viable beats. If you are looking for a loop to support your song rather than sell it, this might be a reasonable place to start.
£49.95 inc VAT.
Time & Space, (Contact Details).
Megabass, alias Martin Smith and Darren Ash, offer you a selection from their personal library. Having a list of mixing credits that includes the Shamen, Madonna and C&C, it should be worth a listen.
A rave-esque ditty (Lee Groves again) that is actually not embarrassing forms a promising start to this collection. Guess what follows on track 2? And 3, 4, 5... 20? Yep — drum loops. Just under 200 of them, to be imprecise.
As it happens, these are very good. The backbones tend to be tried and tested industry standards, but Megabass have taken the time and trouble to enhance them with compatible overlays of programming and/or secondary loops and/or effects. Mono presentations are rare, loops are usually two bars played twice through (acceptable), and all BPMs are given.
If you're looking for instant loop gratification, stop here: the production has been done for you. Me? I usually like to do my own overlays, but this lot are certainly well crafted. I have my own favourites, but why should I tell you? Choose your own from this very viable, varied, and vital selection. I certainly will.
Midway through track 11, the standard hasn't dropped. Neither has the tempo, which is on the way up from a starting mean of around 105BPM towards a peak at 165! Looking down the list, I see that one of the loops hits 151. What a coincidence! I have a tune sitting in a Cubase file at exactly that BPM. I wonder if that one will slot into it?
Track 12 houses a solitary tambourine, otherwise it's back to busy business. Kraftwerk were responsible for much of the opener on track 13. And so on.
I've just completed fitting out our kitchen. If Coldcut gave us glue and timber, Megabass provide us with prefabricated windows and doors. Construction quality is very good, but there is not the same degree of flexibility in their use. My guess, though, is that most of you will love these, being not too clever with handsaws, but reasonably adept with the Pozidrive. If I was to criticise, I'd say too many samples have too much in the way of Alesis-sounding reverb on them. Not much we can do about that now.
Tracks 21 and 22 host around 50 singles; snares, kicks and a few more besides. Nothing stood out as being essential. Track 23, 'Human Beatbox', is a commoner feature among sample CD's than you might expect.
This set seems quite lively, comprising patterns and a few hits, rather than the "human kit" approach. Tracks 24 thru 32 are given over to around a dozen vocal phrases each — never my favourite routine, but this selection beats many for validity and quality. I do like the BBC announcer talking about stereophonic dance music. The joke is wearing a bit thin by the end of this section, though. Spot the cartoon features buried therein.
Tracks 33 thru 39 contain vocal hits. Some you will have heard before, but it's a good solid collection nonetheless. All samples are well annotated. Track 40 houses some nice sustains, choral vox notes and a gorgeous chord (I'll be having that!). Tracks 41-44 contain more vox samples, this time singing 'n' chanting. "Ease The Pressure" has a nice gated tail to it. If you have a use for them, there's not a lot wrong with any of the 50-odd offerings here. Many are timeless classics. I liked the vocoded "Out of control". A small sex shop follows.
What's this?? 'Rolf Samples!' When did Mr Harris say things like "This Beat Is Stylophonic?" Timely? Yes. Amusing? Certainly. Authentic? What do you think?
Track 47 is a good set from outer space. Tracks 48 and 49 'Transforming and Scratching' are noisy and adept. The gated scratching is well cooked. 'Scene FX' opens with a great Axcel-like boom. For more of these check out some of the Best Service catalogue.
The next selection should appeal to ravers: 'Live' is concert footage, crowd noises, car horns, MCs whipping up some action, and the like (there are around 40 samples of this kind). 'Effects' is also nicely adrenalin-inducing. Track 56, 'Stabs', gives us a new perspective on some old favourites by the simple expedient of applying pitch bend in some of the right places. The following 'Bangs' and 'Whooshes' were also much appreciated by your reviewer.
Track 60 opens a 50-odd sample rave set. First off come an array of well varied short hits, any of which would be adequate in a typical rave riff. Chord hits, synth notes, blips and digital strikes are included. The following 'Bass and Sub-Bass' section was interesting. 'Deep Thud Sub-Bass' got the earpieces of my Sennheiser HD560s throbbing with its downward sweep. Most notes are shortish one-offs, but where some sonic evolution is evident (oscillator detuning, etc.) longer samples are offered, and in a minority of cases, multi-sampled sets. I'm not one to get worked up about bass samples any more, but I particularly liked this selection.
Track 68 sports one (new!) long distorted guitar sample. It's a goody. The synths of track 69 sound wild: could be a VFX in overdrive? Tracks 70 and 71, 'Analog Synths' sound Oscar-ish, though the name 'Prodigal Synth' suggests a Moog. The noises are good, though once again far too many samples have (usually the same!) gratuitous reverb hanging around. Duo- and multi- samples are not uncommon.
'Acid' is a modest collection of 303 riffing and other analogue synths, plus some 'Acid Drops'. Reverb is not absent from many of these, either. A solitary classic organ ends the sample set, unless you include the 'Silly Section'. I won't. A limited data section, with 'Drums', 'Bass' and 'Raves' follows. Not having an Akai sampler, I can't vouch for its integrity. However, the data burst header would make an interesting and disturbing bass sample in itself!
Technically, this CD is faultless (within the limitations of source material, of course). It's another dance workstation, but it is fresher than most, and offers a generous helping of relevant dance/pop/rave crossover ingredients. BPMs are given, and names are sensible, but no indication is given as to whether a sample is mono or stereo. Because rather too many are somewhat blighted by the careless application of reverb, I will have to knock off one half star. Really, though, I enjoyed it immensely, and so will you.
£49 inc VAT.
AMG, (Contact Details).
Review by Wilf Smarties
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!