The third in EastWest's acclaimed Stormdrum series sees producer Nick Phoenix plundering the percussion collections of The Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and Remo Belli, founder of the Remo drum company.
We've never come across a more expansive collection of massively multisampled drums, metals, woods and shakers. The whole lot weighs in at 90GB and can be bought either on a stack of DVDs or a portable 1TB external USB3 hard drive (€439). To be clear, this is very much a percussion library in the 'ethnic' sense of the word - there are no kicks, snares or hi-hats here.
The highlights are too numerous to list in full, but the extraordinary Taiko Family category might well sit at the top, closely followed by the Dragon Ensembles, Punjabi Dhol, a couple of Berimbaus, most of the Metals... It's all spectacular stuff, ultimately, and the round-robin implementation and extensive range of articulations available to each instrument make it incredibly easy to create convincing performances with any of them via a MIDI keyboard or pads.
As well as all the individual instruments, 23 loop patches enable you to string together and layer up looped 'snippets' of superb multi-instrument performances by Hart, Phoenix and Chalo Eduardo, to great effect.
The new PLAY 4 engine that powers SD3 is impressive, enabling multiple instruments to be loaded onto their own (or shared) MIDI channels and blended in the onboard mixer, with five discrete mic channels recorded for each and every one - Close (an eight-mic array), Mid (room), Main (Decca tree), HiFi ('super-clean' room) and Ribbon.
Dynamics and EQ processing come courtesy of a licensed SSL channel strip, while further effects include Tuning, Delay, Reverb, amp Envelope and low-pass Filter modules. We did experience the odd glitch with PLAY 4, but nothing show-stopping.