Big Fish Audio | Recording Magazine Mike Metlay | Electro Magnetic Fury Product Review
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Electro Magnetic Fury | Recording Magazine

Reviewer: Mike Metlay Back to Electro Magnetic Fury product details

Big Fish Audio keeps the loop-based composer and artists of the world supplied wiht a steady stream of new and high-quality content in a variety of genres. In this issue we examine their recent releases: Electro Magnetic Fury, "furious beats, menacing atmospheres and ear shattering FX"; Hip Hop Exotica, "a cross-cultural blend of Hip Hop Gangsta beats and World Music Flavors"; and Rush, "Progressive House + Trance".


Each of the three products, as is common with Big Fish libraries of the present day, comes on one DVD-ROM that contains a mixture of three file types: WAV files for use in any looping application, REX2 files for use with Propellerhead Software's Reason and other REX-friendly loop applications, and Apple Loops for use with GarageBand and Logic.

Installation is trivial on Mac or PC: simply drag and drop the contents of the DVD onto yor hard drive. You can then import them into your DAW of choice in the appropriate manner, e.g. opening the folders within Ableton Live or dragging thiem onto the Browser in Apple GarageBand. We worked with these libraries in GarageBand, Live 5, and Reason 3, in their different formats, and encountered no major issues with installing any of them or (in the case of GarageBand) having them come up properly in the Browser.

Documentation and Legal Language

Electro Magnetic Fury comes with a small insert in its DVD ; Hip Hop Exotica and Rush have no printed inserts or manuals at all-not that a lot of documentation is needed. On each DVD you'll find a 4-page PDF explaining the folder organization in the library and containing the legal language surrounding the use of the library, as well as a link to Big Fish's website and an "Xtras" folder containing a demo of Ableton Live 5.

Speaking of legal language, Big Fish desn't privide a printed copy of their lixense agreementany place where you can read it before opening the shrink wrap; fortunately, it's the standard boilerplate you'd expect when purchasing a library like this-the samples remain the property of Big Fish Audio, and while you can't resell the libraries or otherwise transfer the license, the music you make with these sounds is yours without royalties owed to Big Fish.

Organization and Content

Each DVD has three folders, on each for Apple loops, WAV files, and REX2 formats. The musical content in each of these three folders is identical, so you don't lose anything by choosing one format over another--the exception being the REX2format folder, which omits the full mixes and some melodic and pad sounds thatdon't slice easily into beats. Each folder contains a number of "construction kits"--collections of rhythmic and sometimes melodic elements that can be combined to make a complete song mix. There's also a fully arranged short song sample in each folder, so you can quickly audition the sounds together and get some ideas as to how you ight want to mix and match them.

Electro Magnetic Fury ("EMF") contains 3.4 GB of sounds: 1.5 GB each of 16-bit/44.1 kHz WAV files and 16-bit/44.1 kHz Apple Loops (AIFF), and 300 MB of the much more compact REX2 files. These are organized into 95 construction kits with evocative names like "Attack Sub On Fire" or "Crush, Kill, Destroy". In Addition to the 95 kits there is a folder of 17 atmospheres and drones in various keys.

Hip Hop Exotica ("HHE") contains almost 4GB of sounds, divided in a similar manner to those of Electro Magnetic Fury. The usical content is organized into 55 construction kits, named only with a unique number, tempo, and key (all are minor). In addition to a fully mixed sample song and all the elements, each folder in HHE also has two subfolders, one for individual drum tracks (in case you want to further dexonstruct the loopse you've given) and one for one-shot samples you can trigger yourself.

Rush contains about 3GB of sounds about1.3 GB each for Apple Loops and WAV files and 40 MB of REX2 loops. The content includes 15 construction kits, tagged with tempo and key (13 in various minor keys and two in C Major). Also on the disc: three folders of other non-kit loops and samples for use on their own. There's a folder of Drums, with six subfolders: Arpeggios, Bass Loops, Pads, Synth Loops, and Synth Hits in C. And there's an SFX folder,with one-shot effects like Ambient Hits, falls,SnareRolls, Sweeps, etc.

Every sample in each library is named first with the construction kit number, then a descriptive name; the folders containng them have tempo and key (Where appropriate) in them. So, as seen in the screenshot above, the folder 01 Metal Hits-a.aif, .wav, or .rx2, depending on the format you've chosen.
In practice, this uniformit of organization is a huge boon; it's easy to dig down and find thestuff you need quickly, and to decide whether you want more or less in each arrangement . the individual drum tracks and samples ore a nice plus on HHE and Rush; the atmospheres and drones on EMF, while gorgeous, are of a bit less general utility.
Note to Garage Band Users: sometimes you'll want to open the sound folder itself once GarageBand puts it on your hard drive (usually in /Library/Audio/Apple Loops/User Loops) and audition elements directly in the Finder; Garage Band's Brower is a great shortct to find stuff that might work in a particular context, but it unfortunately doesn't have a setteing for "just show me everything in hte library and let me hunt around on my own".
Another GarageBand hint: clicking on the name bar at the top of the Browser adn selecting the library you want to audition, then clicking "Ensemble" in the Browser, will bring up most or all of the numbered full-mix samples, so you can listen to the onstruction kits in their full glory before picking out which loops you want for your song. (This works a little mor xomprehensively in HHE than EMF or Rush.)

In Use

Electro Magnetic Fury is an apt name for producer Perry Geyer's collection of hairy scary noises and evil beats. Nothing on this library is left in its pure and unaltered state; drums,beat-boxes, all manner of instruments vocals, natural sounds, and heaven knows what else are all processed absolutely to death and back. In dance genres like Big Beat and Electro, where the trashier and/or more artificial verything sounds, the better it is, material like this is the stuff of hit singles.

You get slushy ring-modulated drum loops, bouncing bass lines through slashing fuzzboxes, beat-synchronized echoes, and just about anything you can think of bing jammed through a resonant filter, a vocoder, or both. Kit tempo ranges from 67-200 BPM, but the vast majority of the construction kits sit firmly in the 90-140 BPM range. My personal favorite: kit 21 "Dungeon:, a 138 BPM sludgefest with disturbing murky vocal pads, a distorted/resonant hat line, and a snare sound at least four generations removed from anything with with a shell and a drumhead.

Hip Hop Exoica is the brainchild of producer Josquin des Pres, who recently contributed to a Fade Out column on the future of hith-quality audio in the earbud/MP3 age (October 2006). The idea behind HHE is a provocative one: what do you get when you mix World Music instruments from india, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, with the bangin' bumpin' beats of strait-up Hip Hop?
It's my guess that most producers would end u wit unlistenable muck if they tried this; des Pres, on the other hand, turns in a slew o tasteful and fun compositions ranging from 68 to 104 BPM, with a respectful admixture of native flutes, Indian sting, bouzouki, charangas, adn exotic percussion, all held to a solid rythmic foundation with with bass-heavy machine beats, booming 808 kicks, snappy hihats, and swoopingbass leadsynth lines. It's cool to add and subtract elements from the Hip Hop side of the equation, then do the same with thhe World Music side, to hear how the overall feel of a track shifts from the street to the rainforest. My personal favorite: kit 47, a slow and hipswingin' groove with reversed drums, wooden flutes, a synthesized vocal pad, and a sprinking resonant, echoed rides, and synth pings. Yummy!

Rush takes a bit more digging than the other libraries, simply because there's so much more material outside the construction kits. But it's well worth making the effort. The Construction kits were excelllent, absolutely spot-on within the dancetrance genre--with insistent, driving rhythms, sync-echoed bass lines and backing motifs, and all the standard synth effects that put feet on the floor and hands in the air--but were in fact so true to the style that I fond myself missing the insane variety of the other two libraries.
In contrast the individual elements and effects lent themselves much more to adding into almost any sort of song in the right tempo range that needed a little extra zing. As a tool box for electronic dancecliches (in the sense of easily recognized and emotionally resonant tylistic sounds), it'd be hard to beat Rush.


These three libraries make for serious big fun--they have unique and exciting stylistic signatures,and as we've come to expect form Big Fish, they're impeccably well recorded, cleanly edited, easy to install and use, and full of the only kinds of suprises you want when woking with a loop library--musical ones. Check 'em out!

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