SONY CONTINENTAL DRIFT
When they say world loops, they mean world: Some of these sound like Smithsonian field recordings, but higher quality—this isn’t “new age” world.
Some regions are sparsely represented: Asia has four instruments, Native Americans and Arabians get five, Gypsies and Celts have seven; however Africa has ten folders and East India, six. Fortunately each folder has a reasonable amount of loops, so it’s easy to create variations.
Yes, you can make ethnic-sounding music, which might seem limited unless you’re scoring an action flick where the hero jet-sets to exotic locales. But then I did the “let’s throw loops together and see what sticks” test, using African vocals and bass, Arabic rhythms, Celtic dulcimer, and East Indian harmoniums and vocals. It sounded surprisingly cool, and as I assumed you wouldn’t believe me, check out the audio example at www.eqmag.com.
Of all the “world” sound libraries I’ve reviewed, this is a tough call. On one hand, there are enough spices to take any dance mix to the next level in a Peter Gabriel-esque way, and it’s a gold mine for soundtracks; but a lot of the material is very exotic, likely limiting its usefulness in traditional genres. Still, this is a bold and novel library, and because some of the loops are outstanding in terms of being chills-up-spine evocative, it keeps pulling me back in for more.
Contact: Sony Creative Software, www.sonycreativesoftware.com
Format: Two CD-ROMs with 969MB of Acidized WAV files; 24-bit, 44.1kHz
List price: $69.95
LOOP WORKSHOP VARIOUS DRUM LOOP PACKAGES
Loop Workshop follows the “download for cheap” model—typical Pro Session Drumz series packages are around 100–200MB, averaging 50–150 song segments duplicated as stereo kit and room mics only (layer them in parallel to choose the amount of room sound), and cost $12–$14. No, that’s not a typo, and these were recorded in Nashville by Tony Morra, so the playing is great. There are many other packages too, like a dozen drum machine loops for $1.99.
The online audio demos are very helpful, because the number of samples is pretty overwhelming—I checked out Big Drumz, Pop Drumz, Rock Drumz, Alt Drumz, and Reggae Drumz. The sound for these is raw (but not grungy), muscular, and well-recorded—not surprising, as founder Rick DiFonzo was half of Discrete Drums, whose libraries are still my go-to loops for rock drums. In addition to stereo files, the site will also be offering multitrack Pro Tools sessions; this appeals to me a lot, as I tend to mix cymbals somewhat lower than most people, and the crash cymbals on the stereo files are a bit hot for my taste.
Overall, Loop Workshop seems aimed at the instant gratification crowd—“I need a big rock backbeat now, what am I gonna do?” Why, you’re going to go to the Loop Workshop site, listen to the demos, see what works for you . . . then download, and pay for, only what you need.
Contact: Loop Workshop, www.loopworkshop.com
Format: Downloadable AIF (Apple Loops 16-bit/44.1kHz or 24/48), Acidized WAV (24/48 only), and EXS24; for many files you’ll need to edit transient markers when stretching
List price: Varies depending on product, but value is excellent
UEBERSCHALL PURE FIRE
This loop library-meets-instrument is all about intense, hardcore urban music with a mostly minor vibe. I could probably score an entire inner city crime drama show with just these loops (and it would be a great soundtrack, too).
The drum beats are bone-crushing and huge, but not huge as in ambience—huge as in taking over most of the audible spectrum, holding it by the neck, and threatening its family. The synth riffs buzz away, some FX sound like samples of the apocalypse, and there are even a few massive, orchestral-type stings and strings.
The 20 construction kits include deconstructed and mixed riffs, each playable via MIDI (controller or sequencer notes). The Elastik player features stretch algorithms from zPlane; Ueberschall’s “loop eye” interface brings realtime control sensibility to a loop-based virtual instrument (see the 3/10 issue), This makes it easy to create extended improvisations within the context of a construction kit.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: Take out the melodic instruments, and you’re left with beefy drum parts that work with other genres. And don’t get me wrong—the drama and danger in these loops isn’t a bad thing, as they’re extremely well done; the intensity and depth lifts them above the ordinary. If you seek big, bad, authoritative loops with an undertone of power and menace, these deliver
Contact: Ueberschall, www.ueberschall.com
Format: DVD-ROM with 1.54GB of content (approx. 900 loops), arranged as 20 construction kits
List price: $99.95