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Neo Soul - The new sound of Hip Hop and R&B | Sound On Sound Magazine

Reviewer: John Walden Back to Neo Soul - The new sound of Hip Hop and R&B product details

This four-CD set comprises loops organised into nearly 50 construction kits. While the loops can obviously be time-stretched, the majority of the original tempos are below 95bpm. Each kit includes one or two (occasionally more) drum and bass loops that form the foundation. These are then generally supplemented by some combination of keys, synth, guitar, or string loops, with the occasional brass, percussion, or woodwind loop thrown in for good measure. The loops seem to be very well recorded and many have well-judged reverb or delay processing applied. The drum loops in particular have plenty of punch - and although some users may have preferred the snares to be a little drier, the sound is tight and tasteful.

In many of the construction kits, it is Rhodes and wah-wah guitar that are the key elements. This combination, and the dominance of slower tempos, perhaps hints at the styles these loops are aimed at. 'New' or otherwise, the hip-hop and R&B reference in the subtitle is definitely right on the money, but the moods are generally very smooth - these loops are ideal for constructing tracks with bedroom-orientated lyrics! If you think along the lines of Beyonce's 'Be With You' and 'Me, Myself And I' (both from Dangerously In Love) or The Black Eyed Peas 'The Apl Song' (from Elephunk), then you will be in the right ball-park.

Some of the construction kits might also work in other musical contexts. For example, it is easy to imagine Sting's voice sitting over the kit named Deep Pockets, with its harp and acoustic-guitar loops. Equally, at really slow tempos, the combination of gentle Rhodes parts and the occasional wah guitar line might work for a chill-out track (think 'Passing By' from Zero 7's When It Falls).

In use I found that it proved perfectly possible to mix and match between kits, as long as I took care when combining a chord sequence from one kit with a melody line from another. Perhaps my only criticism would be the relatively few drum-loop variations within each kit, so you might quickly find yourself reaching for Recycle. The drum sounds used are pretty consistent across a number of the construction kits, however, so loops could also be combined in that way.

Otherwise, if mellow, classy R&B or hip-hop is your thing, Neo Soul provides a fine collection of loops and represents good value for money. John Walden

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