When drum 'n' bass emerged, it seemed too tough to tame. But with time, the style has been absorbed by dance culture, and in just a couple of years, the outrageous drum 'n' bass grooves have appeared in television commercials and big-budget movie soundtracks alike. Now more than ever, producers are on the hunt for adrenalized beats, supersonic tempos and the hardest banging sounds around. Here to help is Sonic Foundry's Fluid Dynamics: Computational Drum 'n' Bass ($59.95), produced by Rich Mallet. With more than 600 loops (more than 450 MB) of bass, beats and breaks, the disc is precut to work immediately with Sonic Foundry's Acid line of products. But don't let that stop you from firing up these samples in another software application or WAV-file-friendly hardware sampler.
At first listen, I was impressed with the 140 bass loops ranging from Big to Bad to Boom groupings. The low and meaty subs definitely represent what needs to be felt in the bottom. Also impressive were the Gwaan Bass loops, which pushed my Mackie monitors down to their low-end-lovin' knees. I also thought the Fuzz and Distorted loops gave a cool bit of crunch, without losing the melody contained in those cool lines. However, the Upright Bass group sounded muffled and electric more than acoustic. Mallet gives an alternative with 13 Upright Synth Bass loops that are pretty good alternatives to the real thing.
And then, there are the drums. If you're looking for large quantities of frenetic grooves, junglistic breaks and comfortably crazy beats, look no further. Not including the construction-kit loops, Fluid Dynamics has 213 beats and breaks for you to push, pull and combine. As for the actual content, the disc delivers more than a healthy batch of mad beats ranging in tempo from 160 to 180 bpm. A nice bonus is that many of the loops correspond — for example, Victory Beats with Victory Basses or Future Beats with Future Basses — giving producers a quick starting point that can easily be ignored by more adventurous composers.
I should warn drum 'n' bass purists that some beats may sound a bit generic, even a little dated if that is possible. You may be reminded of a broken up “Amen” groove or early Photek programming. But for aspiring beat-breakers, check out the Dope Breaks grouping to see just how it's done. Other highlights are the 89 construction-kit loops, presumably used to make many of the beats within. It is incredibly easy and rewarding to mix and match these combinations; my only complaint is that more aren't on the disc. All of the fundamental components for mad beat-making are contained, as well as a few Tables, Beat Box and Percussion starters. The key is to recombine and create loops anew. And because drum 'n' bass is still a young style, the best may be yet to come.