Big Fish Audio | Sound on Sound Mike Senior | Phat Beats From the Box Product Review
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Phat Beats From the Box | Sound on Sound

Reviewer: Mike Senior | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Back to Phat Beats From the Box product details

This library is dedicated to providing human beat-box construction kits. Four separate performers provide the raw sounds, and these have been sequenced into a total of 16 kits. Each kit offers about eight basic rhythm loops, along with a variety of fills, effects, bass lines, raps, and lead parts (the trumpet is particularly special!), all cleverly created using characteristic beat-box vocal techniques and a smattering of effects processing.

Although many of the elements of the mixed rhythm loops are also provided separately, so that you can easily program your own patterns from scratch, perhaps the greatest strength of this title is the rhythm programming, which is gutsy and effortlessly propulsive. The ingenuity of the fills, and their combination with the loops, transforms what could so easily be just a bunch of programmed sounds into something which lives, breathes, and terrorises the neighbourhood when the moon is full. This inspired programming combines with extremely punchy and upfront sampled sounds, and immediately marks out this CD as something a cut above the rest.

To help you find your way around the library, each kit has a tempo indication (which seems to be bang on) and a demo track of about a minute. The demo tracks mean that you can scan through the entire contents of the library looking for sounds in about 15 minutes, which has always seemed to me to be a strength of the construction-kit format. Furthermore, the WAV files on the CD-ROM all have usefully descriptive names, which should take the sting out of finding the file you're after.

I was particularly pleased that the samples used in the demo were then almost all available free of any effects — although the downside of this is that you can't build the demo track itself easily, this isn't going to cause a problem with this library, as you'll probably be looking to take only individual elements of the mixes for use in your own music.

I was also delighted that the audio CD had a small click at the end of every sample to make editing a no-brainer, and that loops from the same kit could be put in series without the rhythmic lurches common to many lesser libraries. If only all sample libraries showed as much consideration for the user.

But the most important thing about this library is that it's a complete riot! There is something so playful, exuberant, and just plain bonkers about this whole production that every demo seems to have at least one element which simply begs to be sampled. Left-field pop, electronica, and hip-hop producers in particular should ignore Phat Beats From The Box at their peril.

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