Bombastic. Action. Chase scenes. Energy. A touch of exotica, with occasional ethnic percussion elements, odd metals, and other special effects such as angrily strummed piano strings. Not subtle. No love scenes. Those are the terms that come to mind upon auditioning this loop library of 40 percussive construction kits from prolific producer Steve Sechi of Funk/Soul Productions.
The construction kits range in tempo from 65 to 187.5 bpm, biasing toward faster tempos: over two-thirds are higher than 120 bpm. There are 15 to 45 component loops and endings per kit plus a demo song showing how the loops might be arranged, again with the bias toward the generous end of the scale. This number is made up through a combination of a nice splitting-out of component tracks (such as separate loops inside one kit for big hits, roto-toms, massive toms, ride cymbal, splash+crash cymbals, cymbal rolls, cymbal effects, and ethic percussion such as darabuka), as well as by often providing two or three variations on each of those instruments. This allows you to both create varied compositions with sectional changes using a single construction kit, as well as makes numerous useful components available to combine with other libraries and kits. Although the overall vibe is mostly drenched in caffeine, being able to pick and choose components means you can create some alternate energies – for example, you can create a fairly spooky suspense track using just the timpani, bass drum, metal, “odd percussion”, and stacked cymbal loops from the otherwise racing-along 150 bpm third construction kit (the kits are numbered rather than named).
But don’t just rely on my descriptions of the sound; below are a pair of compilation demos supplied by Big Fish:
Two additional considerations help make this library rise above your typical collection of loops. One, not all kits are in standard 4/4 time; 7 of the 40 kits are in alternate time signatures such as 5/4, 3/4, 6/8, and 7/8. Secondly, not only do they include loops which you can repeat during the body of your score; they also include “end hits” for many of the percussive lines so you can end a piece with some drama rather than having to fade to silence while the loops keep churning along (otherwise a pet peeve of mine). You will notice in the demo songs for each kit that these “end” hits can also be used as punctuations to start a track, or to forcefully announce sectional changes.
Formats included in the download or on the DVD include Apple Loops (AIFF), REX, WAV, RMX, and Acid versions of the same kits (a Kontakt3/Apple Loops download version is also available); a single format such as AIFF or WAV contains 2.9 GB of 24-bit 44.1 kHz stereo files. For better or worse, the construction elements include stereo positioning and a fairly generous amount of ambience (reverb) already baked in. Recording in general seems nice and clean (although some of those big tom hits are pretty saturated), carrying well on cheap computer headphones as well as normal audio speakers.
The target for this collection is fairly specific – driving cinematic percussion tracks – but within that vein, I personally find this library to be very well done and of good value at its list price of $99.95.
As I mentioned in an earlier review, I’m reviewing music construction kits that can be used with desktop audio software to create underscores and soundtracks for video and motion graphics. Click here to read a primer on creating music using “loops” and other audio snippets such as these. (FTC Disclosure: All of the sound libraries I’ll be reviewing were given to me by their vendors in the hope – but not expectation – that they would be reviewed. I have no other relationship with these companies.)
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