Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: Sample Magic Organic House

Product: SM19 Organic House
Format: Apple Loops, REX, Stylus RMX, plus Reason NNXT, Logic EXS-24, Kontakt 2, and Halion
Genre: House
Distributed by:
Sample Magic
Price: $74.90
Demo: Audio demos on product page.

If there's one thing you can say about electronic music, it's that it evolves at a dizzying pace. 25 or so years ago when house first started appearing in Chicago clubs, few could've predicted how drastically the genre would evolve, let alone how many sub-genres it would spawn. As essentially the 1980's answer to disco, it is perhaps not surprising that present-day house enthusiasts have brought that influence and sound into their modern arrangements, along with a healthy bit of evolution and innovation of their own. Organic House is a sample collection aimed at helping you create this new retro variant.

Organic House consists of several hundreds of loops divided into the following categories: Bass Loops, Combi Loops (complete pre-fab arrangements in several variations useful for quickly throwing together a track), Drum Loops, FX and FX Loops, Music Loops, Percussion Loops, Synth Loops, and Top Loops (hats, shakers, and the like without kicks). Additionally, a generous selection of one-shot samples give you access to a variety of kicks, snares, hats, percussion, hits, and snippets in your sampler format of choice.

Let's have a look at the loops first. All of the loops are two bars in length with some available at 125 BPM and others at 128. Of course, if you're using the REX2 versions of the loops, they are all generally usable over a reasonably wider range than that without too many terrible artifacts. When relevant, the key of the loop is also included for easy mixing and matching.

The Bass Loops get things off to a nice start with a really nicely varied range of sounds. You'll find gut-rumbling subs, dirty electric bass, punchy FM, and clean analog tones in abundance, so you're sure to find something to fit the mood of your track. The production is fantastic, and basically ready to drop into a track without additional processing (unless you want it). A nice balance between clarity and low-end rumble is perfectly maintained while successfully avoiding sonic mud. The basslines all fit comfortably within what one would expect from the classic house - repetitive, driving, and funky.

The Combi Loops are next. These are essentially completed tracks, broken down into 4 different variations which strip away or add elements, allowing you to arrange them as you see fit into a full track. These would probably best be utilized with the one-shot samples to add some more variation, as making an entire track out of 4 loops might prove a bit repetitive even for club music, but the quality is extremely high. The mixes are well balanced and the style is unmistakably authentic.

The Combi's are followed up by a heaping helping of Drum Loops. Instead of simply giving you a single loop, all of the drum loops here are offered in 3 variations, as well as a 'tops' variation that elimiates the kick drum. Very helpful! Style-wise, the loops mix stomping house kicks with elements of classic disco, African/Latin percussion, with a smattering of modern tech elements. Many of these would probably work quite well outside the confines of house in other types of club music as well. The production standard exhibited by the previous loops continues here. Everything sounds fantastic.

The FX and FX Loops section is made up of percussive loops with a somewhat glitchy/manipulated sound. The timbres used here are all familiar to the house genre, but the ways in which they are programmed and manipulated help lend the more current, modern sound of house. Lots of creative stuff here to add some unusual spice to your tracks.

The Music Loops are where the disco influence is most evident in this collection. Retro-strings, guitars, vocals, pianos, synth slap bass, and other classic sounds are all hyper-edited into funky rhythmic loops with one foot in the past and another firmly in the present day. If house is your thing, you'll find a lot to love here. The editing is all skillfully pulled off and very creative, often with multiple elements working together to create a more complex-sounding whole.

Percussion Loops follow this consisting mostly of various hand-percussion and Afro/Latin rhythms. The loops themselves are generally quite stripped down and deceptively simple, but when combined with some of the Tops loops, they spring to life and lend both funk and cred in abundance. These loops are also mostly bone-dry, so they are prime candidates for further processing and manipulation for musicians wanting to customize things a bit.

The Synth Loops mix vintage synth tones with jazzy Rhodes chords and a decidedly upbeat, cheery feel. Many of the loops make heavy use of filtering to take them out of their retro origins and into a more current sound. As before, the keys of each loop are listed in the loop name, so you can instantly find loops that will work together.

Lastly, we have the Top Loops. These range everywhere from spartan hi-hat loops to full-on 'everything but the kick' rhythms, so there's bound to be something useful to you here. Style-wise, these are about what you'd expect in a house music collection, but with the occasional unexpected element that makes your ears stand up and take notice.

This collection would be a fine value if all it consisted of was the loops, but Sample Magic has generously included some outstanding one-shots as well to help you get even more mileage out it. The sounds here are outstanding. Beautifully punchy kicks, chunky hats, chopped vocal and chord snippets, and spacey effects are all here. Indeed, just about any musician making club-oriented music would find these useful regardless of genre. The production quality is top notch, and those with "production phobia" needn't worry about adding a drop of additional processing. Everything is ready to go.

I'm not sure what else to really say about this library. I really couldn't find a single thing wrong with it, and the quality and attention to detail here is pretty spectacular. You won't find lots of useless filler or throwaway material here - just funky, creative loops with the unmistakable sound of house. [10/10]

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