Big Fish Audio | Keyboard Francis Preve | Neo Soul - The new sound of Hip Hop and R&B Product Review
Skip to content

Neo Soul - The new sound of Hip Hop and R&B | Keyboard

Reviewer: Francis Preve | Rating: Bottom Line: Definitely worth checking out... Back to Neo Soul - The new sound of Hip Hop and R&B product details

According to the liner notes, Big Fish Audio's NeoSoul collection targets R&B and hip-hop producers with a collection of smooth soul construction kits. The vibe evokes classic '70s and '80s jams in the "Quiet Storm" vein, with tempos in the 70-100 BPM range. The producer, Josquin des Pres, recruited a team of session veterans including keyboardist Carl Evans (Barry White, Anita Baker) and guitarist David Stark (Rick James, Teena Marie), as well as other players who understand the meaning of the word "pocket." The drumming is excellent - crisp and natural, with little ambience or additional processing. While there are a few lo-fi loops here and there, the focus is on realism and the playing is tight. Carl Evans' riffs are tasty and refined, but I was a little put off by the preponderance of FM Rhodes patches (ugh), which gives some of the tracks that hackneyed Kenny G sound. If he'd used a few more realistic Rhodes emulations, it would have helped to nail the Vintage VI. Elsewhere, Carl's choice of retro sounds is downright inspired, like "To The Party's" vintage '70s arpeggiated synth, which I'll probably end up using on one of my tracks. In my opinion, Stark's guitar parts and des Pres's bass riffs are the highlight of this collection. Both players understand how to nail the pocket on these grooves. The sublime use of wah and tasteful rhythms is nicely balanced by solid bass anchors. Overall, the tracks are conservatively EQed with minimal processing, giving them a fairly dry sound. The appeal of this is a matter of taste. If your studio sports a fair amount of signal processing, you can dirty up the tracks yourself. Those after clean-sounding instrumentation and classic R&B grooves should peep this set. But if you're looking for more modern lounge and trip-hop textures, you may be a tad disappointed.

Back to top