Big Fish Audio | Sound on Sound Paul Farrer | Modular Sampler: Big Beat & Electro Product Review
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Modular Sampler: Big Beat & Electro | Sound on Sound

Reviewer: Paul Farrer | Rating: 5 out of 5 Back to Modular Sampler: Big Beat & Electro product details

The second disk in Beatnik’s Modular Sampler series is Big Beat And Electro, which continues on top form where Psychedelic Trance leaves off. The format is basically the same: you get two discs, one featuring 67 minutes of audio spread across 59 tracks, and the other containing WAV files and MIDI files for all the tracks on the audio CD, making the process of adapting and slotting the samples into an existing track much easier.

The release kicks off with a few tasty construction kits: interestingly, they start the creative ball rolling with an unexpected but highly usable set of mouthbox loops — individual samples created by spluttering and clicking directly into a microphone. Expertly processed and programmed, and made to sound like a slightly strange lo-fi beatbox, these mouthloops are a familiar theme running through the disc, and also appear later in the form of some vocoder-style percussion loops. Full marks also for other drum sounds and the quality of the rhythm programming throughout.

The full construction kits usually last about 30-40 seconds, and evolve and deconstruct very nicely indeed. Much emphasis is obviously given to the ‘big beat’ elements, but never at the expense of expression or great sound design, all of which this release delivers by the spadeload. As the disc moves on there is a rich variety of drum sounds, both synthetic and real, which only adds to a strange kind of retro feel, placing many of the sounds somewhere between the mid-1980s and the darker moments of the Propellerheads, if that’s possible. The TB303 and other classic bass synths are presented in the form of both short phrases and good-quality multisamples, along with a few wonderful speaker-burning sub-bass noises, and a short but highly usable collection of real bass guitar licks. The rest of the remaining track time divides itself pretty equally between what the sleeve terms ‘FX’ (read ‘anything analogue that can’t be easily described or categorised’!) and a few guitar, pad and single-hit drum sounds.

All in all, Big Beat And Electro provides a huge resource for the programmer looking to drive their music towards the cutting edge. With fewer multisamples and single-hit drum noises than the Psychedelic Trance volume, Big Beat scores a much higher instant gratification reading, and does extremely well in balancing the feel of retro rhythmic styles with the meaty kick-ass values of today’s Ibiza-busting floor-fillers. Of course, no release is ever perfect, and I personally would have liked to have seen more made of the live elements such as guitar, sax and bass — but for a two-disc set that retails for less than 60 quid, you undeniably get a vast amount of great stuff for your cash. And far be it from me to reward that with anything other than top marks.

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