Sample Magic UK Garage
Just in time for summer, Sample Magic brings us 1GB of noughties-style 2-step loops, hits, ‘Inspiration Kits’ and MIDI files.
The tight, crisp drums bounce and swing, the sonically straightforward basses are both funky and melodic, the vocals are suitably cut up, and the synth and music loops draw heavily on an array of classic digital and analogue sound sources.
It all comes together quite brilliantly as an authentic UKG toolkit that stays on just the right side of the ‘referential’ line.
Loopmasters Bass Music Lockdown
Produced by Dabro Music, this riotous 3.2GB library of loops (from 70-177bpm), hits, multis and MIDI files for DnB, EDM and other ‘bass’ styles, represents great value, and impresses in terms of impact and stridency.
The drum and top loops include a fair few ‘variation sets’, but still cover a lot of ground thanks to their sheer number, while the bass and music loops are supremely diverse and imaginative. The one-shots folders are much more than an afterthought, too, being packed with usable drums, FX, synths and basses.
Big Fish Audio Sinister Strings
A fun, quirky collection of 318 creepy string ‘FX’ samples for media production and sound design - think Hitchcock and horror films.
Divided into Cellos, Violas, Violins and Group (all three together) categories, each instrument has been sampled playing a rich variety of high-tension bends, slides, sustains and tremolos, and we particularly like the crazy ‘random’ Group sounds. A set of effects-heavy scripted Kontakt instruments is included, bringing more creativity potential (and convenience) to this brilliant, unique and genuinely useful sample pack.
Rankin Audio Future Bass & Electronica
Alongside 225 drum, bass, melodic and vocal loops, Rankin’s 4GB smorgasbord of funky, laidback electronica sounds includes six extremely impressive construction kits (each a full two-minute-plus track, complete with vocals), a ton of one-shots (including some of the most engaging snares we’ve heard in ages), a folder of natural ambiences, and 50 Massive presets with accompanying MIDI files.
It’s an expansive, cerebral library, the highlights being the superb beats and music loops, and the only disappointment being the paucity of basslines.
Niche Audio Underground Trap
Underground Trap’s 15 projects for Maschine 2 and Ableton Live are well up to Niche’s usual high standard - 100% on point both compositionally and in production terms.
The Live pack includes 15 Drum Racks and 57 Instrument Racks, while Maschine users can get hands-on with 15 complete Groups. Qualifying as trap in the broadest sense, the 625 samples involved are applicable to other forms of hip-hop and bass music, too.
Versatile, affordable and absolutely slamming, this is a sonic resource that no producer of urban music should be without.
Samples From Mars SP1200 From Mars
To create this 1GB library of multisampled synths and drums, SFM sampled a variety of classic hardware (Juno-60, Polysix, DX100 and the full x0x-box range) into its E-MU SP-1200, and captured the SP-1200’s factory drum sounds to tape.
Everything is provided in Live Drum Rack, EXS24, Kontakt and WAV formats, the depth of multisampling is impressive (each drum is provided at between ten and 16 pitches, and two volume levels) and the sounds are gorgeous. Ultimately though, it’s all about the drums - the synths feel a bit superfluous.
Sturmsounds - Electro Turner Mk2
This nicely-scripted Kontakt 5 library is described as a “sample slicer/beat machine/remix tool”, but essentially, it’s a 5-track step sequencer with an integrated 270MB sample bank, keyswitchable ‘scenes’ and integrated effects.
The sequencers control everything from sample selection (awesome!) and triggering to pitch (with 13 scale options), pan, filter and saturation levels; and sample assignments, sequence contents and sequence playback can all be randomised.
It works well and sounds great, but it’s too expensive and the documentation is very poor.
Goldbaby MT40 Digital Dancehall revolution
Casio’s MT40 is the ‘80s home keyboard that kickstarted ‘digital reggae’, with its preset ‘Rock’ groove forming the basis of dancehall’s famous Sleng Teng riddim.
This multisampled MT40 (including EXS24, Geist, Battery, Kontakt, Reason and Maschine patches) weighs in at just 190MB, and features all the drum sounds, the bass sound, and 16 of the melodic presets (Guitar, Flute, ePiano, etc).
It’s not the biggest or most versatile library around, but the drums are very cool, some of the tones really stand out, and that addictive Goldbaby warmth and depth is in full effect.
Zero-G Nu Bossa
32 polished bossa nova and samba construction kits, plus a good number of bonus drum and guitar loops. Stylistically, Nu Bossa is very smooth and clean, as befits the genre - to the point of being perhaps overly shiny in places - and while the drums are obviously programmed (presumably we can consider that to be the ‘Nu’ part of the deal), they sound great.
In fact, the whole thing sounds great, and any producer of lounge, downtempo and even hip-hop would find plenty of plunder among the bass, guitar and keyboard parts, especially.
Samplephonics Meta Beats
255 loops and 150 one-shots for trap, hip-hop and R&B production. The beats are menacing and minimalist with the requisite ticklish hi-hats, lazy snares and depth-extended kicks, and the synth basslines are simple but punchy.
Elsewhere, the Chords & Textures folder is full of interesting pads, beds and chordals, while the melodic loops are surprisingly (for the genre) pretty.
All in all, it’s a compelling, characterful, aurally satisfying collection, although we’d have liked a bit more for the money.