Wall of Vinyl 3Rap and hip-hop artists often construct tunes with samples from vinyl LPs. The appeal of this process comes in part from the characteristic warmth of analog recording and the turntable's role as an instrument. Big Fish Audio's Wall of Vinyl 3 (two audio CDs; $99.95) is the latest in a series targeted at this niche.
Wall of Vinyl 3 offers 131 tracks of 16-bit, 44.1 kHz samples on two CDs. The first 101 tracks are presented in typical construction-kit style, with 30 additional single-instrument loops. Track tempos range from 87 to 106 bpm, and the booklet lists every track's tempo.
Under ConstructionThe construction kit tracks start with a full band groove (usually 8 to 16 bars long) followed by drums, drum hits, and other elements, including bass, piano, and scratches. The single-instrument loops include 47 scratches, 49 drums, 75 wah-wah riffs, 74 guitar riffs, and 75 bass lines.
While guarded about offering production information, Big Fish Audio did reveal that the producer, John Tejada, played all the parts using Steinberg's Cubase VST for tracking and processed the audio with Waves plug-ins. The vinyl sound probably comes from a plug-in, along with some form of tube processing during recording or mastering. It deserves kudos for subtle tape-saturation coloration, as well as the absence of overt, repetitive crackles and pops in the processing.
Drum loops are the foundation of discs like this, and Wall Of Vinyl 3 comes saturated with loping, laid-back grooves that feature crispy hi-hats and crunchy snares. The mixes put extra-large kick drums in your face - right where they belong. Sampled drums were sequenced on an Akai MPC2000; however, the drum-only samples featured on disc 2 are live.
The instrumental parts tend to be simple one- or two-chord lines. What makes them interesting is the rhythmic interplay between the drums and the other elements - the syncopation creates some seriously funky results. Although the lines sit in one tonal center, there are enough songs at the same tempo to provide for an easy interchange of samples.
You get numerous killer processed synth stabs, and the meaty organ sounds will grab your attention. The scratches provide all sorts of aural entertainment - easily the set's best sounds. A host of scratches pepper the song elements, and disc 2 contains 47 single samples. The lo-fi string lines and hits are intriguing, and a number of them appear as individual elements. An occasional sound effect in the synth lines or a short vocal burst rears its head in the mix, which blends nicely into the rhythmic soup.
The funky guitar parts on the main tracks sound sharp, distinct, and in the pocket. However, disc 2's guitar-only samples don't sit right in the groove, and the tone is lacking. The bossa nova chord parts are out of place in a rap and hip-hop collection and don't mesh with any of the other feels. In fact, the first two bossa nova tracks are at 80 and 85 bpm - slower than any of the discs' grooves. The fretless bass and live drums are merely adequate.
My Vinyl OpinionWall of Vinyl 3 is well produced, and it offers a variety of material that can provide inspiration and ideas for your songs. I cooked up a few tasty custom loops by adding samples from stylistically similar CDs. Hip-hop and rap musicians need a deep pool of samples, and these breaks and beats are a quality addition to any sample library. Anyone who works in these music styles should consider this collection.