Big Fish Audio | Remix Magazine Dave Hill, Jr. | Dread: The Reggae Collection Product Review
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Dread: The Reggae Collection | Remix Magazine

Reviewer: Dave Hill, Jr. | Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Back to Dread: The Reggae Collection product details

Reggae sample CDs are fairly rare, but leave it to Big Fish Audio to produce a beauty. Dread: The Reggae Collection ($99) ships with two CDs containing essentially the same sounds in two formats (one audio and the other an "Acidized" WAV version that is precut into clean loops for quick insertion into loop-friendly applications). The 550 MB of construction kits range from 60 to 140 bpm, and all key and tempo information (to the nearest tenth of a beat) is thoughtfully provided. Better still, each musical loop is packaged with its component parts. That means that each ban or ensemble loop is broken down (or soloed) into individual construction loops consisting of bass, guitar, keyboard, steel drum and so on. The rhythm tracks are further broken down into individual drum or cymbal one-shot samples.

Diving into the disc reveals plenty of standouts. You'll find a bounty of both popular and underground reggae styles. For cool dub moods, check out "Kiss Me Neck" and "Kingston Nights," or for a more danceable vibe, try "Jerk Chicken" or the self-descriptive "Arawak Ska." The more experimental crowd will dig "Don Gorgan," "Rasta Tings" or the Jamaica-goes-West-flavored "Bandulu Cowboy." I also enjoyed the mellow coaxing of "Mi Philosophy," as well as the sweet and melancholy "Yu Tan Deh" and "Crucial Culture." Truth be told, each of the 45 groups of musical loops has something to offer. Unlike many sample CDs, each track enjoys a fair amount of distinction from the others, giving the impression that each has been made by a different group of musicians. That is due in part to the instrumentation; for instance, some melodies are played on flutes or guitars, whereas others are played on keyboards or steel drums. The drum sounds vary from piece to piece, too, but remain authentic all the while. Also, you'll find more than 100 MB of bonus miscellaneous bass, drum (intros, fills and grooves), guitar, keyboard and melody loops tagged onto the last portion of the disc. There, like on the rest of Dread, you'll discover plenty of delayed snare cross-sticks, relaxed-sounding percussion loops, brooding bass guitar and the prevalent upstroke of offbeat guitars.

The many dub- and reggae-instrument and drum-set rhythms on Dread could easily fit into a hip-hop, rock, ambient or electronica context. The loops are crafted for modern use, with a slight tip of the hat to legends such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, Wailing Souls and Burning Spear. Both the acoustic and electronic sounds of Dread have a healthy variety of character and are truly professional-sounding. And in case you though I forgot: Yeah, mon.

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