Product Review | Dread: Roots Reggae

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Sound On Sound Magazine 5 Stars John Walden
 
No prizes for guessing the musical content of Big Fish Audio's Dread Roots Reggae - the title says it all. The library provides some 41 construction kits containing well over 700 24-bit, 44.1kHz loops and spanning over 1GB of sample data. The original kit tempos range from a laid-back 65bpm to a more urgent 160bpm, although there is some double-time playing in a few of the slower kits.

Usefully, the original key of the material within each kit is specified in the sub-folder name, and each kit includes a pre-mixed example, which makes it easy to get a flavour of what can be done. Each kit also contains a decent number of individual loops - usually three or more drum loops, a couple of bass guitar loops, two or three guitar loops and then an assortment of percussion (mostly timbales), piano, organ and brass loops. The guitars include both classic reggae rhythm playing and, in some kits, some very tasteful lead playing. Sonically, they are also just right - quite bright (almost cutting at times) and with a useful dose of reverb. Indeed, the authentic reggae vibe is present in all the sounds, and the majority of the material has ambience pre-applied. While some might prefer the flexibility of dry loops, I think the BFA production team have made the right call here: what you get is an instant slice of reggae atmosphere straight out of the box.

In terms of styles, a good number of the kits are in classic Bob Marley territory, but there is a healthy element of ska and the occasional hint at The Police. The drums, bass and guitar combinations can create some excellent backing tracks, but the icing on the cake often comes courtesy of the percussion and the brass loops - the latter, in particular, provide some really genuine Jamaican attitude. The kits also contain a nice selection of musical moods. Whether you want to construct something a little bit dark to sit under a protest lyric or require something more 'up' for a song about sunshine and beach parties, Dread Roots Reggae has it covered. Usefully, the sonic character of the instruments used is pretty consistent across the library, so it is easy to mix and match between construction kits.

I could imagine this library appealing to budding reggae producers and, particularly, to media composers who need a genuine taste of reggae for a project in a hurry - although, like many BFA libraries, do note that the licence doesn't permit the use of the material in library music tracks. This issue aside, Dread Roots Reggae had me dancing around my own studio while I was auditioning - excellent stuff.
 

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