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Big Fish Audio - Xperts of Techno Review

February 1, 2001

Xperts of TechnoIt's 1:30 a.m., and the party is just getting started. A subsonic, four-on-the-floor beat pounds straight through your chest, synth riffs pulse in hypnotic repetition, and glossy, treble-hyped percussion keeps things moving with impossibly steady 16th notes. It's time to put on your dancing shoes and enter the world of Xperts of Techno. This disc from Big Fish Audio (in audio CD and Sonic Foundry's Acid CD-ROM formats; $99.95 each) provides several hundred techno drum loops, music loops, and construction kits. The loops are fairly well organized and offer only three tempos - 130, 135, and 140 bpm - making it easy to mix and match loops. Xperts of Techno leads off with ten Demo tracks, which are construction kits composed of complete mixes and soloed elements, which use up to 14 layered loops apiece. Many of these tracks come across as complete (albeit brief) techno songs. I particularly liked the lush, fluttery Plastic Men and the deranged rubber-band arpeggios of Warped.

Crunch and FizzFrom there, the collection moves quickly into individual loops. Far from techno's reputation for being somewhat bland and repetitive, the programming here is playful and inventive. As a drummer and drum programmer, I appreciate the artistry on display. For example, take the simple but completely driving percussion of Loop Rave Hat, which is drenched in delayed, fizzy reverb; the crunchy frog noises of Loop Freaky and Loop Funky Tape; or the guttural arpeggios underlying the groove in Loop Oizo. Some groups of samples among the drum loops are related, but don't expect to find multiple mixes and soloed elements. However, you get loops with kick drum or other low-end sounds, snare and percussion, or percussion only, and you can combine them without muddying the mix - an important feature. I do wish, though, that those differences were more clearly noted in the documentation. The music loops include pads, chordal riffs, and arpeggios. The latter are my favorites, as in the Warped demo. The creators of Xperts of Techno have a real talent in this area and came up with unlikely rhythms; fun sounds; and surprising, disjointed pitch patterns.

Techno CatsRather than an introduction to the disc's contents, the liner notes present a succinct, passionate argument in favor of techno as an art form and an exhortation for musical creativity. That enthusiasm shows clearly in the product as well. I recommend Xperts of Techno to anyone looking for solid foundations for techno tracks or simply inspiration and insight into the genre.

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