Sonic Foundry's Acid loop-editing software has donewell with its burgeoning library of grooves and effects.Nonetheless, there's always room for more effects, especially whenthe content is as fresh and unexpected as Endlessflow Productions'Ugly Remnants ($79.95).
Ugly Remnants is a truly massive, uniformlywell-recorded collection of material in Acid-friendly WAVformat. The material spans two CDs and is neatly categorized intofolders (Bass, Beats, Beds, FX, Melodies, and so on) andsubfolders. For example, the Beats folder contains drum loops,fills, percussion, rhythm effects, and vocalizations. WithinAcid, you can instantly load or preview items, at whichpoint you also see tempo, duration, and root key (whereapplicable).
If you can tell a lot about people by the samples they keep,then Mark Harbst, president of Endlessflow Productions, must be ascience fiction and monster-movie buff. He's probably a fan of AnneRice's novels, too, and perhaps he was a goth in years gone by. Youget lots of scary guitar, twisted riffs, and ghostly wails andeffects. The CDs boast some splendid distorted metal bass grooves,vocoded basslines, and such. Ugly Remnants' dark, eeriepads and drones positively ooze atmosphere.
The collection embraces drum loops, pads, motifs, sound effects,beds, and melodies played on every imaginable instrument, includingkoto, tuned percussion, and vocals. Stylistically, UglyRemnants is an appropriate, if somewhat self-effacing, title;though samples are frequently laden with effects, they are notprettied up. The samples sound perfectly crisp and clear, but theyare not designed for easy listening. Many are tailor-made forhip-hop and dance material, and you get a huge number that can beused in other types of music, from rock to jazz.
The Beats folder contents typify the product's exploratory feel.In addition to 151 beats in the Drum Loops category alone, disc 1offers fills and a folder of percussion loops played with sampledtabla, real bongos, dumbeks, shakers, congas, and kitchen utensils.The Rhythm FX category contains industrial machinery, crunches, andmunches. A vocalizations folder includes chants and monster noises.The rhythmic material is inspirational stuff — a far cry fromthe typical “me-too” dance drums on other sampleCDs.
Behind the Curtain
The data is clearly organized on the CDs. However, the packagingconsists of a grainy printout and generic CD labeling, with onlythe perpetrators' names supplied on the rear tray insert. That's ashame, because Ugly Remnants is an excellent body of work.Its sales could easily be hampered by the homespun physicalpresentation.
Harbst was the main force behind one of Sonic Foundry's mostpopular loop collections, Universal Groove Elements, andhis knowledge of what works best in Acid-stylecompositions shines through this glittering collection. Althoughone or two song-form compositions speed you on your way, UglyRemnants knits together well, and I don't classify myself as apower user of Acid. If you use Acid and hungerfor more raw materials, Ugly Remnants' 1,900 loops —which span the weird and the wonderful — come highlyrecommended.