BIG FISH AUDIO: EARTH TONE
World percussion libraries are useful to have around, because just about any type of music—from hip-hop, to rock, to electronica, to drum ’n’ bass—benefits from having a frosting of persuasive percussion.
Earth Tone has ten folders of loops organized by tempo (from 72 to 135BPM), with two additional folders for 190 and 200BPM. There are different instruments in the different folders, but stretching is reasonably good (even the Acidized files), so you can mix among the various folders fairly easily.
One aspect I particularly like is that these have real dynamic range, and don’t slam the dynamic range extremes, either. This helps them fit into a composition really well, as percussion generally is softer than the main rhythms. Of course, you can always normalize and/or limit them in your DAW if you want a more aggressive sound.
This is indeed world percussion: Some loops sound more African, while others have a Middle Eastern or Latin flavor, making this a versatile collection that also lends itself to some interesting cross-cultural mash-ups. What’s more, the loops-to-dollar ratio definitely works in your favor.
There are many world percussion libraries, but they often focus on one particular part of the world. Earth Tone is a fine general-purpose collection, where the odds are good you’ll find something that works for you.
BEST SERVICE: CLUB REVOLUTION VOL. 1
With 2,099 one-shots and 642 electronic drum loops, you can think of this collection as a filling station for MPC-type grooveboxes— it can provide loops on some of the pads, and one-shots on others for accents. As if to underscore the point, five out of the six loop folders don’t have a kick, encouraging you to lay down the loop, but get original with the underlying beat.
The one-shot collection is wonderful—bass, claps, snares, kicks, effects, synths, toms, percussion, chopped vocals, and the like. They’re also great companions for drum modules, like Battery or Impulse. Most sounds have a tough edge that’s more techno or hard/progressive house than “classic” house, and they cut through a mix. Melodic files have the key in the name.
The loops are of the “get up and move!” type. I’d recommend boosting the highs a bit on some of them, but the rhythms are spot on. All of them are fairly short and run at 140BPM; they aren’t Acidized, and REX/Apple Loop versions aren’t included—if you want to stretch the tempo, you’re on your own.
For dance music productions, Club Revolution is “collage fodder”—some assembly required, unlike “mix and match” loop collections. The downside is you need to put a little more work into putting the bits together, but the upside is a more original, creative end result—and that’s a good thing.
FUTURE LOOPS: INFINITE SOUNDS FROM A FUTURE COSMOS
Not only are virtual instruments sprouting big libraries: Infinite Sounds is 17GB of material that, had it been around during the 1980s new age boom, would have likely ended up in a zillion segments of Hearts of Space. Each of the eight DVDs is themed (Sea Explorations, Ice Ages, Biospheres, Desert Soundscapes, etc.) although these are loose descriptions.
There are no “beats” per se, although there are files with rhythmic modulation; mostly this is about drones, pads, effects, and soundscapes. They’re cinematic in nature, but also work as the long, evolving sounds that skim the surface of trance or chill. One DVD, “Artificial Intelligences,” has a lot of electro-friendly material. Files typically hover around 30 seconds, and there are 400 files per DVD—most are unpitched, although there are a few exceptions. The main limitation: These aren’t cross-faded as loops, but fade in and out. While more “plug-and-play,” this makes it difficult to loop them.
There’s a certain sameness about the collection, but you certainly can’t beat the value, whether you want to accompany “So as the lion cub awakes,” “Professor, activate the trans-gravitator!,” or even “The ancient Pharaohs. . . .” In fact as I was reviewing this, I needed a video background and clicking around unearthed three perfect candidates. I guess that says something right there.