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Marshall Jefferson - House Generation | Home & Project Studio Magazine

Reviewer: Doug Nagal Back to Marshall Jefferson - House Generation product details

People dig a good groove that they can dance to, something that moves them and makes them feel good. For many club and dance enthusiasts, House music is a good vibe that's emotion in motion. It's full of hooks that catch and keep the listener anticipating the next change or the next movement. When the changes happen, they can bring about a warm and fuzzy feeling of resolution or anticipation of what is yet to come.

Of course, all of those great grooves and sounds have to come from somewhere, and if you are into making house music or would like to try your hand at it, Loopmasters' House Generation: Marshall Jefferson and Deep House Producer: Harley & Muscle DVDs are a great place to start.

House, M.D.

Both DVDs are from the Loopmasters Artist Series Collection, and are sold separately by Big Fish Audio. Both discs are similarly organized, with loops for the major formats (Acid WAV, ReCycle Rex2, and Garage Band Apple Loops). In addition, there are also sampler program files and patches for Reason NNXT, Halion, Kontakt, Cakewalk, Emulator X2, EXS, RMX, and SFZ formats. These libraries have been made extremely accessible, so no one should have any problems finding a format that works for them.

Library installation is a snap. All one has to do is drag the appropriate files (in my case, the Reason Refill) onto the designated hard drive and you're ready to go. Since I am a Reason user, I also dragged the Sampler Patches folder, which, according to the PDF file, contained all of the NNXT patches that I would be using. I hit my first snag when I tried to load a patch from the NNXT folder from the Sample Patches folder. Sure enough, the patch loaded, but with all of the samples missing. What the PDF didn't say, and what I failed to notice at first glance, was that the NNXT folder appears twice—once in Sample Patches and again within the Refill file. Once I loaded a patch from the latter, I had no problems with loading missing sounds.

Once everything was installed, I was navigating around the well-organized sound libraries quite easily. The folders are all organized by the type of module for instruments and effects, as well as separate folders for REX, WAV, and Apple Loops. All of the loops are labeled with tempos, and in the case of this library, nearly all of the default tempos are at 125 bpm, which is ideal for House music. Most descriptors also contain the default key, which makes it easy to find quickly something that works. Of course, you can transpose the pitch (within reason) to make loops match the right key. However, the real test is how do the libraries sound?

Marshall Law

The first library I checked out was the House Generation: Marshall Jefferson collection. I simply began by poking around the different sounds, picking patches and samples that seemed interesting to me. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I was browsing through the menus and picking sounds to audition. The overall sound was rich and full, and many of the loops were live pieces from session players and House greats that Marshall Jefferson had handpicked for this project. Samples and loops ran the gamut from classic staples such as the TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines and TB-303 bass modules, to House pianos, guitar and orchestra stabs, live drums and percussion, and synth basses. There were also various vocal samples from singers Byron Stingily and Paris Brightledge, as well as spoken word samples from Marshall Jefferson himself.

The strings and brass samples and loops, featuring Orbert Davis and his Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, are a standout. They could have used keyboards and synths to get these sounds, but they actually went with an orchestra. (Awesome!) I also found the live drums and percussion enjoyable. They sounded tight and in the pocket, but still had that live, un-electronic feel.

On the other hand, the vocal samples were slightly flawed, because I could hear a bit of headphone bleed on some of the recorded pieces. This is a non-issue if the vocal is deep within the mix, but may be more problematic if some of the vocal samples are used in a solo context.

Flex Your Muscle

Next, I checked out the Deep House Producer: Harley & Muscle collection. I approached this library in much the same way as the other one, poking around file listings for sounds that I liked. My initial impression of this collection is that it sounded pretty good, but not quite as good as the Marshall Jefferson library. Many of the sound clips seemed lower in volume and, in my opinion, lacked some of the fullness and richness of the Marshall Jefferson sounds. For example, all of the bass loops sounded like they were played with the same electronic bass patch. A little sonic variety in bass loops would have been appreciated. As for the strings, all of them sounded like they were synth-based to me. I guess I got spoiled from listening to the MJ live strings, and so the synth lines, while well performed, just didn't sound as good to me.

On the other hand, many of the sampler patches were outstanding, especially the synth patches and the effect sounds. I was also very impressed with the drum kits because of the way that they were organized and their sheer variety. There were entire kits of just kicks, snares only, snares and kicks, etc. The drumkits in this collection are highly useful for Hip Hop production as well as House, because it's always great to have a whole slew of good kicks and snares at the ready when producing music in these two styles.

While the files for the Deep House Producer collection are also well-organized, I felt that the labeling was not as thorough as with the MJ collection. While most of the patches were named with good descriptors , the loops carried a more generic label, such as HM_Bass 1 or HM_piano5. With labels like these, you have a rough idea of what you're getting, but you don't really know exactly what you're getting. I was also surprised to see no loops with default tempos at 125 bpm, which is where I expect most House tracks to sit. Default tempos ranged from 110 bpm to 124 bpm, with tempos and keys listed right in the loop descriptor when applicable.

House Improvement

Both the House Generation: Marshall Jefferson and Deep House Producer: Harley & Muscle DVDs are great tools for creating original House music. I really enjoyed both collections, but my favorite was the Marshall Jefferson library because of its superior sound quality and live tracks. If you are into making House music, you can hardly go wrong with either of these collections. The staggering amount of material in both libraries will have you making great music to keep the party going on and on.

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