Big Fish Audio's Things That Go Bump in the Night, vol. 2 (audioor WAV/Acid files, $99.95; Akai CD-ROM, $199.95), is a two-CD setbursting with versatile and expressive content. It delivers morethan 140 minutes of material from nine sound designers with avariety of perspectives. The sleeve notes state that Big Fish gavethe sound designers two rules: “One, if we can identify thesource sound, it's out; and two, if we can hum along, it'sgone.” True, this collection boasts some fairly strangesounds. But don't be fooled into thinking that these samples aren'tmusical. Despite the prescribed rules, I still found myself hummingalong to many of the sounds.
The CDs offer 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sound files that are divided into13 categories: Percussive Loops, Pitched Loops, Ambient Wash,Vocal, Noise, Treble, Variable, Video-Atari, Video-Commodore, ShortEvents, Lumpy, Homogeneous, and Bass. Each track contains between 2and 16 samples. File lengths vary greatly, ranging from shortbleeps and bursts to longer washes and rhythmic loops. The bpm islisted for each of the Percussive and Pitched Loops.
The first 22 tracks feature percussive loops that aren'ttraditional dance-oriented kits or hand drum samples but ratherunusual processed loops created by sampling atypical sources ortwisting traditional percussion sounds into something altogetherunique. The tracks occasionally have syncopated rhythms that spillover the bar lines or are somewhat (or even completely)arrhythmic.
An immediate favorite is track three, loop two — ahaunting 4-bar creation with the sound of an explosion on beat oneof each bar, which is followed by a high metallic bowed sound, areverberating stick-on-metal hit, footstep effects, and ametal-on-metal hit.
Music producers Atom Heart and Jason Jones, who specialize insampling industrial sounds, created tracks 14 through 16 and 17through 19, respectively, in the Percussive Loops section. AtomHeart's “Atomizer” tracks tweak the beat in strangeways and utilize distinctive chirping or bubbling bursts andnoises. Jones takes things further into the noise realm with his“Titanium” tracks. He uses huge hits, distortion,squealing metal, and over-the-top processing in some insanely coolrhythms.
The Pitched Loops are exquisitely off-the-wall, and I have toomany favorites to list. Sounds include more metallic sources fromhits to scrapes to springs, tube-radio — type sounds, rompingsynthlike effects, and analog distortion — simply wonderfulprocessing that takes things into new sonic realms. Most of theexcellent rhythms fall into a tight pocket.
It's a Wash
The ten tracks of Ambient Washes contain some stunning samples,most of which are icy and haunting. Their depth and texture suggestthat they were created with a certain combination of specializedsoftware and granular or modular synthesis.
“Fog Cluster” and “Open Door” aresubdued, droning samples. “Turandot” is brighter butalso lush and suspenseful. Other likable samples are the short butluscious “Suspense” that opens track 49, the spacey“Lament,” and the monk-chant influenced“Gyoto2.”
The second disc comprises 21 Short Events tracks featuring allkinds of exotic panning and dual stereo effects. The Lumpy categoryis an extensive section consisting of 38 tracks with numerousexciting sounds of varying pitches and textures. I love track 23,“After the Rains,” with its two clangorous, cascadingbell- and gonglike samples. “Dream Sequence” on track30 has a rhythmic, synthlike pulse, and “HauntedTeakettle” evokes aural images of — well, of a hauntedteakettle. The disc's Homogeneous section contains 15 tracks ofequally enticing material, and the disc ends with four tracks ofunusual low tones in the “Bass” section.
A Sampling Gumbo
The Video-Commodore and Video-Atari sections aren't exciting,but they have their place, and many readers will find uses forthem. The rest of the samples are fun, fascinating, challenging,and musical, running the gamut from gorgeous to delightfully weird.If you're preparing a musical meal, whether strictly for listeningor for scoring film or video, this double-CD set will provide justthe spice you need at an excellent price.