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Sounds: August 2009

August 1, 2009
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BIG FISH AUDIO: FUNKY HOUSE GROOVES 2

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You don’t have to be gay to like house music—those slippery, elastic grooves are designed to put a smile on your face. This library isn’t about construction kits, but a collection of grooves (drums, bass, brass, stabs, guitar, keys, percussion, etc.) as well as one-shots, all designed to stand on their own or complement the original Funky House Grooves library. Loops have folders for 125, 127, and 130 BPM, with different content in each; file names give the keys.

Overall, the quality and musical usefulness is top-notch. A lot of the drum loops have an Afro or Latin vibe that expands your options, and while the world doesn’t necessarily need more one-shot drums, these are great for supplementing the loops. The stabs and “filtered one-shots” are imaginative, and can add a lot of variety.

REX/Apple Loop stretching is acceptable, but mixing and matching is problematic, due to the wide variety of keys— for example, I started off with a bass riff in A major, but then had only two choices of guitar loops at the same key and tempo. I wish companies in general would stick to a few keys and their relative minors to minimize the need for sound-degrading transposition.

Still, the loops acquit themselves very well, and it’s way easy to put together dance floor-ready music quickly—listen to the audio example at www.eqmag.com

Contact: Big Fish Audio, www.bigfishaudio.com
Format: DVD-ROM + “audition” audio CD; about 800MB (over 1,200 files) of unique 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV loop/oneshot content, duplicated for Apple Loops/REX/Stylus RMX; also EXS24/Halion/Kontakt/Reason NN-XT presets.
List price: $99.95

ZERO-G: INDIAN DANCE CLASSICS

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Before you think this doesn’t apply to the kind of music you do, think again: Exotic percussion can add sonic spice to just about any type of music, from ambient to techno. And note that this library isn’t just about Bhangra, probably the best-known Indian dance music style; there are 15 categories including folk, Goa, various names I can’t pronounce, and a folder of vocal percussion. Tempos range from 70 to 200BPM, with the file name indicating tempo.

The recording quality is very clean, and the Acidization/Apple Loops/REX stretching is far above average— it’s easy to mix files of different tempos. I’m less happy with the organization, which groups by style instead of tempo. If you want files from different styles with similar tempos, you’ll need to dig through the folders.

With each style having a folder of Rhythms, another of Variations on those rhythms, and a Freestyles folder with additional variations—along with folders for intros, fill, and ends—it’s possible to create flowing, realistic parts. (In fact, many of these parts fit well over Western drum parts; listen to the audio example at www.eqmag.com , which layers the Indian loops over a rock beat from a different library.)

Bottom line: Next time you want to take your rhythm track to another (and more exotic) level, this vibrant library more than does the job.

Contact: EastWest, www.soundsonline.com
Format: DVD-ROM with 1.65GB (774 files) of unique 24- bit/44.1kHz Acidized WAV loops, duplicated for Apple Loops and REX/Stylus RMX; 24-bit/44.1kHz.
List price: $89.95

SONY: WHAT IT IS! ’70S ANALOG FUNK

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We’re not talking jazz funk, metal funk, or other funk derivatives: This is the greasy funk that’s the love child of James Brown and Tower of Power, recorded to an Otari 24-track (no kidding) analog tape recorder, then bounced to digital—find out more in the included booklet and excellent documentation. While I’m no analog purist, there is indeed a certain quality to many of the loops that sounds suspiciously like hitting tape pretty hard.

Fifteen construction kits draw from the usual suspects: drums, bass, guitar, percussion, clav, organ, Rhodes, strings, horns, pianos, strings, etc. Phrases are broken down into short segments, typically one to four measures, making it easy to add lots of variations within a single part.

It’s difficult to pick standout instruments, as the playing is uniformly good. The only disappointments are the vocal shouts, which don’t hold their own against the Godfather of Soul—but then again, what does?

Sony’s done their usual fine job of Acidization, so the mix and match aspects are excellent. As a result this set isn’t just about construction kits, but also being a collection of general-purpose loops.

I didn’t do any audio examples, because you can hear plenty of them at www.sonycreativesoftware.com/whatitis And a heads-up to whoever is shooting Undercover Brother II: I’m ready to do the soundtrack.

Contact: Sony Creative Software, www.sonycreative software.com
Format: Two CD-ROMs with 1.33GB (769 files) of Acidized WAV files; 24-bit, 44.1kHz.
List price: $69.95

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