Native Instruments Caribbean Current
Dancehall, dub and moombahton sounds infused with a European club vibe. With only five not terribly detailed melodic instruments in this Maschine Expansion, this one’s all about the ace Drum Kit Groups, of which there are 40.
From drums, percussion and other instrumentation typical of the encompassed styles to successful genre hybrids and useful FX Groups (Dub Siren, Ganja Cookies and Zion Voices), the extensive range of their 640 sounds (including 40 Massive patches) belies the modest 260MB footprint of the library. Irie!
Rhythmic Robot Lorenzo
A Kontakt-hosted revival of a Lorenzo reed organ, complete with optional sampled fan noise and up/down key click. Every note of the instrument has been sampled for 30 seconds, capturing its temporal idiosyncrasies, and the resulting sound is fabulously crusty and quirky.
While the additions of ADSR envelope, EQ, amp simulation, distortion, tremolo and rotary speaker are all welcome, the latter only has two settings: Slow and Fast - we’d like to be able to dial in our own rate.
For six quid, though, we’re nitpicking - Lorenzo is a splendid and very playable musical curio.
Sample Tools by Cr2 Mainroom FX
1.2GB of risers, falls, fills, impacts and other ‘FX’-type sounds for the construction of builds and drops, plus 25 minutes of videos showing you how to use them.
The 50 risers (four, eight and 16 bars long, at 128bpm), 50 falls, 15 sub drops and 25 impacts are the highlights, but there’s nothing here that we couldn’t find a use for. The lack of sampler patches is surprising, given that this is essentially a library of one-shots; but whatever - at this price, Mainroom FX is a must-have ‘utility’ toolkit for any dance music producer.
Mode Audio Hover
100 textures, drones and ambiences, from 20 seconds to a minute long, generated using a variety of sources, including field recordings, “household percussion”, and electric/electronic instruments.
From cavernous bass drones and crunchy noise beds, to soaring stretched guitars, beautiful metallics and twisted synths, it’s a satisfyingly diverse repository of otherworldly sounds; and while the samples aren’t particularly dense or intricate, they do layer up nicely because of it, upping their usability if not their immediate wow factor.
Zero-G Nu Disco
2.5GB of construction kits (35 in number), loops and hits (including mappings for various samplers) in '70s/'80s funk and disco styles, with a modern production sheen.
The instrumentation mixes live bass, guitar and keys with programmed drums, synths, sampled strings, etc; and as is a given with Zero-G, the production is excellent.
The only problem is that, like many retro-flavoured genre construction kit libraries, it often borders on being a bit soulless and ‘pastiche’. Lots to explore, though.
Samplephonics Kruisemode: Liquid RnB
950MB of highly stylised loops and one-shots by producer Jon Mackey, spanning RnB, hip-hop, house, chillout and more.
The 252 loops make for quite an erratic smorgasbord, both in content and quality, veering from fairly uninspiring basslines and puzzling ‘chops’ to catchy, expansive drums, soulful keys and beautiful pads - more hits than misses, we’re pleased to say.
The 157 one-shots, meanwhile, comprise a tasty collection of drums and percussion that we’d definitely describe as keepers.
So, bursting with character and personality, but a bit inconsistent and quite pricey.
Loopmasters My Digital Enemy Presents Back To The Old School
Vintage house, techno and rave are the subjects of this impressively authentic collection of loops, hits and multis.
That authenticity extends to the programming simplicity, digital crunch and general anarchy of said genres, from bouncy 909-based drum loops and breaks to syncopated synth basslines, hands-in-the-air leads, ear-popping stabs and more.
On the downside, there’s a lot of numbers-padding through the inclusion of unnecessary “wet” versions of some loops - we’re quite capable of applying our own reverb, thanks.
Toontrack Reggae EZX
This rootsy expansion for EZdrummer 2 features '70s Premier Club and Yamaha Stage Custom kits, with four snares, cymbals from a range of manufacturers, and a selection of percussion on the side.
The Yamaha’s toms come in damped and undamped versions, with two tunings for the former, and EZdrummer’s delay and reverb effects get in on the action through the five processed presets. The MIDI patterns are a bit thin on the ground, but what’s there is good.
The main draw, though, is the sound of the drums themselves, which is gorgeous from top to bottom - earthy and organic.
Sample Magic Deep House Anthem Patches
55 patches for LennarDigital’s Sylenth1 and 52 for Native Instruments’ Massive, “recreating the signature sounds of the world’s biggest deep house artists,” including Gorgon City, Breach and Dusky, at a fair price.
The categories comprise basses, leads, plucks, pads, keys and FX, and the presets are stylistically on point, making great use of their host instruments’ architectures, effects and - in Massive’s case – macros.
You can buy the presets for each synth individually for £8, too, should you not own both synths.
Loopmasters Robert Owens - The Voice of House Music
The veteran house vocalist presents 780MB of his own sung and spoken lyrical stylings, divided into two folders: Phrases and Stems. Phrases contains 75 short phrases in 14 themed packs, while Stems consists of eight song construction kits.
Owens’ voice is great, a lot of verbal ground is covered (some clichéd, some less so) and, ultimately, if you want a touch of genuine star quality in your tracks (albeit without crediting him - you need permission for that), this is the way to get it.
Sample Magic Ultimate FX 3
Produced by Richard James, this 1.8GB collection of largely synth-based risers, descenders, dub FX, spot FX, impacts, drum fills and more holds the attention from start to finish. Despite the synthy source material, the kaleidoscopic variety on offer is impressive, with sounds to suit all electronic styles.
The one mild annoyance is that delay effects are a bit over-represented, making some of the impacts, in particular, more tempo-specific than they need to be. It’s not a big problem, though, and certainly doesn’t detract from the resoundingly effective bigger picture.
A Kontakt 4/5 library of High German and Ashkenazi Jewish solo female vocals, Yiddish centres on a selection of four performance types - Poems, Songs, FX and Improvisations - each containing a number of keyswitched phrases.
Songs are self-explanatory, while Poems are spoken word, FX are exclamations, noises and such, and Improvisations are clips taken from improv performances by singer Rahel Jaskow.
Due to its more coherent lyrics, Yiddish may not be as generally useful as its Turkish counterpart Güzin, but it serves its purpose well enough.
Cymbal Masters BFD Virtually Erskine Grooves
Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan et many al) is one of the world’s finest drummers, so the ability to effectively get him in your studio for a pony via this 400-strong library (12 Palettes) of fully editable grooves for BFD 2/3/Eco is nothing short of a modern musical miracle.
The styles played include funk, rock, latin, blues and jazz, and Erskine’s playing is straight-up incredible. Teamed with the Virtually Erskine BFD sound library, this really is like having the man himself at your bidding.