Big Fish Audio | Sound On Sound Magazine John Walden | 60s A Go Go Product Review
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60s A Go Go | Sound On Sound Magazine

Reviewer: John Walden | Rating: 4 Stars Back to 60s A Go Go product details

60s A GoGo comes as an Elastik loop library. Elastik (a rather simpler affair than Ueberschall's Melodyne-based Liquid front-end) provides a way of adjusting both tempo and, if required, the overall pitch of the loop to meet the needs of the project. It can run as a stand-alone application or as a plug-in in VST, RTAS (Mac and PC) or AU (Mac only) formats. I tested v1.5.2.0 of the VST plug-in on a PC, using Cubase 4 as a host.

The Elastik window is split into three main sections. The left is dominated by the main controls, which include dialogues for loading and saving presets from the sample sound bank. In this particular library, the majority of the presets consist of several loops that form a small construction kit, or loops that form the individual elements of a complete drum loop. A range of controls is provided that allows the tempo and pitch of the loop to be adjusted, and tempo to be set to match the host. The user also has a choice between applying a simple filter or envelope to a loop, or beat-slicing it. The filter and amplitude envelope are pretty modest by modern standards but the beat-slicing works well enough if you want to roll your own drum patterns.

The right-hand side of the window is dominated by a rather unconventional waveform display. This shows the waveform of the currently selected loop in a circular format (presumably to keep things compact). Aside from the fact that it looks interesting, you can also use this to drag the loop start point (S) and end point (E) if you only wish to use part of a loop.
The bottom of the window is dominated by two sections of virtual keyboard. By default these span keys C1 to B3 (the lower section) and C4 to B6 (the upper section). When a preset is loaded, each loop is allocated to a key on the lower portion of this keyboard, and these keys can be used to trigger the loops from a MIDI keyboard. If the user wants to create their own keyboard layout, loops can be dragged and dropped into the upper section. This also applies to the beat-slicing function, where the slices of a loop are assigned to a series of consecutive keys. Such user-defined layouts can be saved and recalled. Interestingly, given that one common purpose of using a dedicated front-end for sample libraries is copyright protection, loops can be exported from Elastik as WAV files for use within other audio applications. In summary, Elastik is simple enough to use and, apart from one or two quirky moments, it seemed to behave itself reasonably well during testing with Cubase 4.

Front-end aside, the sample content of this library is an absolute hoot. As the title and packaging suggest, this is a retro collection of loops with a very distinctive '60s flavour. The loops are split into some 14 song-based construction kits, although most of the songs are themselves split across two presets, forming an 'A' and 'B' song section that could be pieced together in a complete arrangement. Furthermore, the loops are presented as 'demosongs' (premixed and probably best just for auditioning purposes), 'mixed' and 'dry' versions. The dry versions are fairly self-explanatory, but the mixed versions are the same loops with some '60s-style processing applied (particularly vintage reverb). Each construction kit consists of a decent number of loops, often with three or four different drum loops, a bass loop or two and then an assortment of other instruments, such as guitars, cheesy organs, flutes, pianos, brass and vocals. Both the sounds and the playing capture the '60s vibe very well.

However, the thing that struck me most was the compositions themselves. Listening to the demo songs for each construction kit was like entering some kind of time warp. Images of films set in the swinging '60s, minis (cars and skirts) racing around London, or set in (then) exotic European locations such as Rome or Paris and starring Julie Christie or David Hemmings were conjured up by almost every kit. Equally, if you wanted to pastiche a Pearl & Dean cinema advert there are certainly one or two pieces here that would form a very good basis for doing so. Everything about the production of these kits is utterly convincing of the period, but the vocals and organ sounds are particularly evocative.

60s A GoGo is likely to be aiming at something of a niche market and, at just under £70, this library does not perhaps scream 'bargain!'. Elastik itself is functional, but some users might feel that learning yet another front-end just to use a loop library is in danger of becoming a chore. It would be really nice to see library producers develop an alternative copy-protection system (dongle-based perhaps?) that allowed users to access loops via their own choice of loop manipulation tool, although at least you do have the option of exporting individual loops from Elastik, should you wish. All that said, if you need some genuinely cheesy '60s flower-power pop, 60s A GoGo pushes all the right buttons, and it is worth auditioning — if only for the nostalgia trip it can most certainly induce.

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