UEBERSCHALL SOUNDS OF BERLIN
I love Berlin—maybe because it’s filled with reminders that sometimes, good prevails. Big Nazi buildings now house an entirely different government, the guards waiting to machine gun citizens are gone, and the wall is down. What’s more, Berlin is now the hot club scene, and Sounds of Berlin encapsulates that scene with 75 construction kits, divided by time increments (e.g., the 12PM–4PM “afterhours” set is more mellow than the 3AM–8AM set). Tempos range from 120–130 BPM, although the Elastik playback engine allows for high-quality stretching. The kits include deconstructed and mixed riffs, playable via MIDI (controller or sequencer notes); this brings flexible, realtime control to a loop-based virtual instrument.
I’m a big fan of this kind of music, and this is the real deal: hypnotic, minimalist, highly electronic grooves that connect directly to your central nervous system. It’s moody without being negative, and the slight aura of mystery matches the vibe of a darkened, smoky club. These loops show great care in both their musicality and recording; you can use them as is, or apply the Elastik engine’s filtering and other processing.
Ueberschall’s offerings are of uniformly high quality, and Sounds of Berlin is no exception. Catch the audio example at www.eqmag.com, and you’ll understand why I’m so impressed.
Contact: Ueberschall, www.ueberschall.com
Format: DVD-ROM with 1.01GB of content (1,258 loops and samples), arranged as 75 construction kits
List price: $99.95
BIG FISH AUDIO ELEMENTAL PERCUSSION
One of my favorite loop library applications is percussion, because percussive parts are often repetitive anyway. This library is nothing but percussion, using a wide variety of percussion instruments. Tempos range from 80 to 240 BPM; you’ll even find 3/4 and 5/4 loops (thank you!), as well as one-shot hits if you want to customize the loops or create your own.
The WAV files are Acidized, and stretching is effective. One handy feature is that within the folders, each file has an identifying number. Identical numbers were recorded as part of a multitrack session, and therefore work well together (e.g., an 04 Tambourine part fits with an 04 Djembe part). However, these are suggestions, not restrictions, as I found that most loops with dissimilar numbers worked reasonably well as a team.
The recordings are relatively low-level; there’s plenty of headroom for the transients to do their thing and as percussion is generally mixed low, you can just bring the loops in and they’ll fit.
This is not an exotic library, but a utilitarian one. Having a good media browser in your host is a plus, as you can scan through the different loops and import those that strike your fancy. Elemental Percussion is like a good session musician who shows up on time, does what you want, doesn’t require a second take—and delivers the goods.
Contact: Big Fish Audio, www.bigfishaudio.com
Format: Two DVD-ROMs with 3.12GB (1,410 files) of unique 24-bit/44.1kHz Acidized WAV loops (duplicated for Apple Loops/REX2/Stylus RMX) and 153MB (153 files) of oneshots
List price: $99.95
SAMPLE MAGIC DEEP TECH-HOUSE
Just when you think you’re going to burn out on house music, another mutant strain pops up to keep the genre fresh. Deep Tech-House provides an eclectic combination of bass, drum, fx, synth, and top loops, along with “combi” loops (several compatible loops assembled as one loop) and “music” loops, which are more like chord/melodic combinations.
The loops are great, but it seems like the loop keys were chosen by throwing darts on a target with various key signatures. Fortunately, most hosts have decent pitch-shifting (or you can use a plug-in like zplane’s Élastique Pitch; see the review in this issue) so those A# loops will work in, say, C.
Unlike some libraries, this isn’t just suitable for putting together static pieces of music. You could load many of these loops into a program like Ableton Live, and with an Akai APC40 or Novation Launchpad controller, keep yourself entertained for hours. I’d definitely include some of the drum and bass loops in DJ sets to reinforce the main track, or provide a cool transition.
When it comes to house, either you like it, you don’t like it, or you haven’t been exposed to it. So, I’ve put together an audio example at www.eqmag.com that gives a reasonably good idea of what this library is about—it’s definitely house, but with a more tech, minimalist groove that I find extremely appealing.
Contact: Sample Magic, www.samplemagic.com
Format: CD-ROM with 795MB of unique WAV (non-Acidized) loops/fx and 25MB of one-shot hits; 24-bit, 44.1kHz; loops duplicated for Apple Loops and REX; also formatted for EXS24, HALion, Kontakt 2, Reason NN-XT, and Stylus RMX
List price: $99.95