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Best Service

February 1, 2005

Artist Grooves and Artist Drums are perfect examples of tried-and-true concepts in sample library development. Start with four world-class drummers bringing their kits into a top-flight studio. Next, record them performing a bunch of pop, rock, Latin, and shuffle grooves, and then playing each drum and cymbal separately. Finally, edit these raw recordings into a marketable product. And this is where things get interesting, because Best Service decided to program the loops and drum kit elements into NI’s Intakt and Kompakt, respectively. This way, you can to manipulate, process, and program your own grooves in your audio/MIDI sequencer. Way more flexible and customizable than a conventional CD-ROM loop library.

The drummers in question? Dennis Chambers, Kenny Aronoff, Simon Phillips, and Mel Gaynor. A veritable super-star lineup whose collective session credits read like a who’s who of rock and pop icons: Steely Dan, Mick Jagger, The Who, Tina Turner, Toto, Ricky Martin, Santana, to name a few.

In Artist Grooves, loops and fills are organized by drummer and tempo. The Intakt engine allows you to change tempo effortlessly, and will automatically sync the performances to your sequencer’s clock. I found that I could slow the tempo by as much as 25 BPM without introducing artifacts.

For Artist Drums, each drummer’s kit is mapped across the keyboard with full kit, hi-hat only, snares only, and so on. This way, you can build hybrid kits that combine elements from various kits. In addition, a number of MIDI file loops and fills are included, allowing you to “recreate” the live sessions. The MIDI tracks are well programmed, and as is, they’re a solid resource for songwriters. Because it’s MIDI, though, you can customize the grooves to a great extent by applying some creative editing.

Sonically speaking, the samples were expertly recorded, with a fair amount of room tone around the snares, toms, and cymbals, while the kick and hi-hats are drier and tighter. Overall, AD and AG have a slick, “LA” produced, and refined sound. There’s nothing punk rock about these samples, so if you’re looking for “edge” and close-miked rawness, you should look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a clean, punchy, well-produced set of pop/rock drum grooves and kits, Artist Drums and Grooves deliver the goods.

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