You certainly can’t accuse FXpansion of slacking when it comes to providing ongoing support for BFD. The XFL and 8 Bit Kit expansion packs took their flagship plug-in to new heights in terms of flexibility, boosting its library with a raft of genuinely useful and sonically diverse new sounds.
Now we have the third and fourth add-ons – both Jazz & Funk and Deluxe boast a whopping 55GB each of additional tubs and metalwork, though the Reduced Detail option means that each can be ‘summarised’ in a mere 25GB.
Installation of both packages is straightforward, their authorisation involving nothing more than the entry of a serial number. With each one comprising five DVDs, however, getting all the samples copied over is by no means a quick process, though the fact that BFD 1.5 supports two data paths means that expansions can be installed on a different drive and don’t have to go in your existing BFD folder.
Jazz & Funk was recorded at Omega Studios, Maryland, and is positioned at the lighter end of the percussive spectrum. We’re talking full kits from Gretsch, Yamaha and Slingerland plus single drums from Ludwig, Rogers, Yamaha, Remo and Pearl. Cymbals come courtesy of Wuhan, Sabian and, of course, Zildjian.
The number of velocity layers in play is impressive, with up to 90 for each snare, 40-60 for each tom, and 25-40 for the cymbals and hi-hats. The hats are presented in quarter- and three-quarter-open versions as well as the open and half-open configurations of the original BFD. As well as the regular stick versions, many of the kit pieces also come in mallet, rod, hand, cross-stick and brush iterations, with long and short brush sweeps for the snares (hard to play via an electronic kit, but wonderfully expressive when carefully programmed).
Deluxe is a more ‘conventional’ soundbank, recorded by the legendary Steve Albini (among others) at his own Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. The kits here include a 70s Ludwig Vistalite, a DW, a Sonor Designer, a Yamaha Pro Tour, a double-kick-equipped Gretsch and a Backyard Drums prototype. The majority of the cymbals are from Zildjian, though there are Sabians, Paistes and Wuhans here and there.
Some truly esoteric gear and a fairly small room were used to record Deluxe, giving it a lot of punch and power. This contrasts nicely with the bright cleanliness of Jazz & Funk - Deluxe is more suited to rock, pop and other backbeat-orientated styles, while J&F offers more subtlety and expression but as a consequence is harder to program. Both collections are well worth any BFD fan’s time, but if you had to single out one as the most broadening addition to the original library, it would be Jazz & Funk.