Discrete Drums Discrete Percussion

Most musicians and composers who work with loops are always looking for the next thing — something new to add spice and variety to their loop library. And if it’s new and spicy you’re after, you should check out Discrete Drums Discrete Percussion — The Eric Darken Collection.

This 800MB collection includes 40 different loops in multitrack format. The array of instruments used to create these loops is vast — Darken, one of Nashville’s first-call percussionists, has brought together and used 102 different instruments. These range from drum machines to computers to “traditional” percussion instruments such as log drum, snare drum, congas, and so on. Then there’s the fun stuff: egg cartons, aluminum bowls, can shakers, copper bongos, briefcases, Coke bottle shakers, laundry baskets, curtain rods, and many others — there’s even a toilet seat and toilet lid in there. (In the aptly titled “Throne Room” loop.) If Darken could hit, smack, shake, or rub it, it’s probably included in these tracks.

Just as the instruments aren’t limited to the traditional, nor are the rhythms “ordinary.” While there’s an ethnic feel to many of them by nature of the instruments used, the rhythms often include drum machine or computer-generated rhythms, but these loops aren't machine-like in the least; the wide variety of acoustic sounds keep things sounding natural. The result is a collection of loops that sound fresh and that have a lot of life in them.

The recording quality is, as is usual with Discrete Drums collections, stellar. As a nice bonus for this collection, Live Sets are provided, allowing you to open each loop in Ableton’s Live for immediate gratification — a free demo version of Live is included for both Mac and PC.

The beauty of all of Discrete Drums’ loop collections is that they’re multitrack, so you can mix, pan, and process the individual instruments however you like. The files are in WAV format at 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution; it would be nice to have 24-bit versions as well. A disc of stereo mixes is also provided for easy referencing. Dry mixes, mixes with delay and reverb, dry mix with drum machine, and full mixes with drum machine and effects are included. Documentation is limited to a list of the files with tempos.

A plus: There’s often a big problem with working with loops: There’s no easy way to end. Darken and Discrete Drums addressed this by providing an “ending” loop for each track.

Almost 500 one-shot samples of the instruments are included if you want to expand on the loops or create your own sampled instruments. Since you may be hard-pressed to find some of these “instruments” anywhere else, this is a nice resource.

For a taste of what to expect, check out the demo at www.discretedrums.com. At $129 list, Discrete Percussion offers a good value. If you’re after unique sounds and rhythms, percussion ace Eric Darken and Discrete Drums have provided them here. Fun stuff.