||2Step Ahead - 4 Stars
Pros - Interesting collection of electronic loops
Cons - Slightly expensive + You may be put off by the title
"No sooner had Apple announced Soundtrack as a standalone application than AMG, the company behind countless sample CDs over the past decade, set to work recompiling some of its most popular titles to take advantage of the new Apple Loops format. We lent an ear to the first fruits of this enterprise.
Ultramagnetic Beats is billed as 'fresh from LA's Latin Gangsta hood'. As you might expect, this means lots of head-nodding drum loops and snaking basslines, but you also get plenty of melodies to layer on top, featuring mellow guitars, funky brass and electric pianos.
More than 75 collections are featured on the CD. Inside each is the looped pattern with all the tracks played in full, plus separated drum, bass and melody patterns. In this way, you can arrange the constituent parts in any sequence you like, as well as use one part with a loop from an entirely different source.
It's not all about hip-hop, either: this might have been the inspiration for the overall vibe of the CD, but these loops sound pretty fabulous wherever you use them.
LOOP THE LOOP
160dB is subtitled 'The Drum & Bass Interface', giving a clear indication of its crashing snare breaks and frenetic drum loops. Divided into folders of sound types, you get Breaks, Live Drums, Upright Bass, Sax, Rhodes, Atmospheres, Analog FX, Misc. FX, Gated FX, Drum Hits and Basses. With up to 68 files per folder, there's a lot on offer.
Much of it is excellent. There are a lot of mellow flavours designed to juxtapose the relentless drums. In particular, the sax, Rhodes and upright bass loops are brilliant at defining a mood, featuring fluid energetic playing. Laid over any kind of drumbeat, these can be very inspiring, while the massive Atmosphere samples and FX automatically add a moody vibe to any scene. For ?30, the jazzy instrumentation is worth getting.
THE BEAT GOES ON
Not really knowing what to expect from 2Step Ahead, we were pleasantly surprised to discover a selection of imaginative electronic loops. Comprising 13 Groove Kits split into numerous Beats, Hi-Hat and Kick Snare Loops, plus Synth Bass options, there's plenty of robotic rhythmic content here.
Set against a clutch of groovy clavinet, electric piano and organ riffs, as well as dozens of weird processed loops with a very twitchy edge, and you've got all the makings of a thoroughly modern club classic.
All of AMG's Apple Loops titles are licensed for use in Soundtrack or any 'AV-synchronised musical compositions' only. The loops will work as aiff files, but buy the audio version of the title if you want to use them in standard songs. All three CDs are solid collections of professional-sounding loops collected by genre, although mixing and matching loops across genres is a rewarding exercise. The quality of the samples is excellent, and which one you go for depends on your tastes."
Rating: [0 of 5 Stars!]