18 June 2010

The Progression
Page 2/3

The CD is in two parts, the bulk of the collection is given over to individual loops, 36 in total, which are firstly played as a "Full Mix" and then a whole range of variations or seperate elements, for example, dry mix, sub bass mix, congas, Tambourine/ Triangle/ Shaker, without conga's, percussion mix and so forth, usually 6-8 variations to each loop, though into double figures in places. The final half dozen tracks comprise 50 single "Blown Up" loops

The sound of the whole collection is very much that one of a live percussionist, there is a very wide range of instruments used, such as congas, udu, bongos, shakers, bottles, water bells, bells, djembe, darabuk, tambourine, cowbell,cabasa, shekere, guiro, maracas, clave, triangle, woodblocks and the not very ethnic Wavedrum, which I'd guess is the only non acoustic instrument in the collection. Although there is a lot of ethnic type percussion in evidence I certainly wouldn't catorgarise the collection as "ethnic". Miles having fused ethnic instrumentation into more orthodox, though original, rhythm styles with the odd touch of more usual purcussive instruments.

The collection ranges in BPM from 51-175 BPM, the notes mention that 70 & 110 are predominant, though only actually only 14 of the 36 tracks are at these BPM's, most of the collection though is between 70-120 BPM. Despite the BPM's speeds most of the collection does sound very laid back, especially many of the individual elements, Haiti Jaxx (@ 175) excepted !

One other point to note is that 7 of the loops come in more than one variation at different BPM's, two Montuno & Noo Shoes at three different BPM's. Whilst the component elements given at the different BPM's isn't identical it is mostly very similar. Whilst retuning from 70 to 110 BPM isn't going to produce perfect results by any stretch of the imagination it does mean that the number of original concepts is reduced to 27. If a loop doesn't appeal at 70 BPM then it's unlikely to at 90 BPM.

The loops within the main body of the collection are very good indeed, whilst several are fairly upbeat sounding the bulk of the collection sounds very open and laid back. There is plenty of life in the rhythms, lots of variation in sounds and grooves, and almost a breathing feel to them, can't quite put my finger on it, maybe some subtle off beat playing or just natural human variation. Very usable indeed, can hardly think of a sample that I thought, "how could that be used".

There are probably two ways in which the collection could be used.

Firstly would be to take the "Full Mix" loop and the various sub components that are given to construct the rhythm part of a track, with all the variations that and elements that are given it's very straightforward to produce an interesting and varying track. With a program like Acid it only takes a few minutes from listening to the audio CD, loading up the .wav versions of the loops, loading them up rearranging them for a while and hey presto you've something a whole lot more interesting and varied than just your original "full mix" sample looped. The only downside of this is that because so many variations and elements of any given loop are included it does mean that there isn't a great number of unique "Full Mix" loops to use in this way.

Secondly, and probably where most use would ultimately be obtained from the CD, is to just use the myriad elements as additions and supplements to other loops or parts of tracks. You could easily just take a single element or combine two or three elements to produce an interesting variation to more orthodox sounding loop. The range on offer is huge, both in style and sound, from rapid light pit pat type bongos to laid back scrapers and shakers. Of the 350 or so loops in the collection some 250 of them are loop elements or variations so there is a lot of material here. In isolation many of the loop elements would work well in many environments, from ambient, dance, ethnic, soundtrack, most anything really that requires a slightly unusual percussive touch.

The "Blown up" loops section contain single shorter loops from 85-130 BPM that have been heavily processed to produce all sorts of weird and wonderful loops, that sound one has to say rather out of sorts with the rest of the collection. Does seem a rather odd inclusion as people who are drawn to the bulk of the collection would no doubt rather appreciate more of the same, whilst those who this might appeal to would be better off searching out a more specialist collection than on offer here.

Summary & Overall...

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