Propeller Alternative and Indie Rock Review
Pros: 15 high energy Alternative and Indie Rock construction kits offering complete instrumentation, sensible file organization and plenty of alternative drum loops
Cons: Not a con but no MIDI files are included in this set
There is excellent musicianship here. The strong hooks, a cornucopia of raw and effected guitar elements and live feeling rhythmic parts all combine to create an investment worthy package – if this style of music can work in your productions. And that, indeed, is really the only question here.
Over the years, Big Fish Audio has teamed with talented session musicians, producers and writers to produce some of the strongest virtual instruments, loop and construction kits on the market. Recently, they’ve been working with Sample Factory to produce some very remarkable titles. But this isn’t just hyperbole their marketing people handed me to parrot. I’m describing my own personal experience with the products I’ve purchased from them over the years. Whenever Big Fish Audio & Sample Factory release a new title, I’m all ears. With their latest release, “Propeller: Alternative & Indie Rock,” I cannot wait to give Propeller a spin.
I’m often biased about new releases of loop products. Many seem far too frequent and they fall short of the mark in terms of longevity and usefulness. But when Big Fish Audio and Sample Factory team up, things are different. Whenever these folks release titles, my heart goes all a-flutter. I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking, “Steve, man, that sounds like symptoms of A-Fib. You should really get that checked out.” Well, let’s just say that by now, I’m accustomed to the side effects of swooning.
I’ll make no apologies for loving this title. This is music I would enjoy regardless of how or where I heard it. In fact, while previewing the kits, I found myself verklempt when I let my finger accidentally slip off the keyboard in the middle of a song. Big Fish Audio states the construction kits within this collection were inspired by artists like The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Dead Weather, Artic Monkeys, The Racounteurs, Jet, Wolfmother, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age and more. The session players here are some of Nashville’s finest, including drums by Miles McPherson who once toured with Paramore.
There is excellent musicianship here. The strong hooks, a cornucopia of raw and effected guitar elements and live feeling rhythmic parts all combine to create an investment worthy package – if this style of music can work in your productions. And that, indeed, is really the only question here. Think summer, travel, action, adventure, reality, sports and you’ll soon find the fit you’re looking for. Tempos range from 88bpm to 140bpm but the general vibe is, catchy uptempo Alt-Rock.
The product is available in two primary packages with one being Big Fish Audio’s KLI 3.0 Kontakt instrument version and the other being a Multi-Format version, consisting of Acidized wav files, Apple Loops and REX files. No matter how you like to work, one of these options will work for you, although the KLI version offers just a tad more “tweakability” to the kits.
In the world of loop products, consistency is everything and no one has been more consistent at producing a package of reliable organization than Big Fish Audio. Loops are arranged in a predictable manner with file names being essentially, kit number, tempo and key signature. This method not only ensures swift navigation within the product folders, but even if you’re browsing folders with something like Logic Pro’s loop browser, it’s very easy to determine where you are. Now, having become accustomed to this kind of attention to detail, I find I really miss it when other producers’ products don’t live up to this expectation.
Navigating the KLI version is easy. To listen to all the demos, simply load the DEMO.nki in Kontakt and you’ll find full demos for all the kits conveniently located in one place. Note that you can see the kit number, kit tempo, key signature and even the key the demo is mapped to on your keyboard. For those using multi-format versions, navigation is the same for all kits: Folders are labeled in exactly the same way – Kit number, tempo, key signature.
Moving on to the KLI version’s instrument folder, you’ll see each kit has a number of .nki files and a folder containing sliced loops. We’ll get to that in a moment. In this product, there are going to be two files with similar names. The first is drum and bass loops while the second contains guitar parts for the kit. In the screenshot I’ve included, you can see that this kit is labeled: 01 100 Amin 2. Decoded, that’s Kit 01, which has a tempo of 100bpm, is rooted in Amin and it’s the second .nki file. This is how all the kits within this set are labeled.
In the same folder, an .nki instrument labeled 01 100 Amin 1, is where you’ll find the bass and drum loops as well as two more instruments with alternative drum loops and hits labeled with BPM and GROOVES in the file name. If you’re new to KLI, this will begin to make sense pretty quickly. For those browsing the multi-format versions, these same loops are included inside folders, nestled within each kit folder.
Finally, there is a folder labeled Sliced Loops. This is where you customizers can go crazy. The sliced loops contain all the same loops from each kit but they have been “sliced” to allow you loads of options like reverse playback, retriggering of loop start and end points, playback speed and so forth. Experimentation is the key with these sliced loop instruments.
So, is Propeller Alternative & Indie Rock a good value? Only you can decide if you’ll actually use these loops and construction kits in your productions. Personally, while previewing, I immediately found a kit that feels tailor made for a project that’s sitting in my inbox. If you work with reality shows, podcasts, action-adventure, travel or sports-oriented projects, it’s probably a no-brainer. This is high energy, highly gloss Alt & Indie rock at its finest. But don’t take my word for it. I strongly encourage you to explore all the demos and videos available at BigFishAudio.com prior to purchasing this product.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to crank up my studio monitors and see how long it takes to make my neighbors complain (again.)
Depending on the version you purchase, you’ll be sent links to downloadable files which are only good for 24 hours. Don’t let them expire. But if you do, don’t fret. There are actual humans you can speak to at Big Fish Audio and they will help you get your links working again. Ask me how I know.
For the KLI version, first you’ll need to be sure you have the full paid-for version of Kontakt 5.8.0 or higher. This product won’t work in the free Kontakt player.
The KLI version downloads as two compressed files. Part 1 is 2.67 GB and Part 2 is 2.45 GB. It includes a total of 1,248 patches and will occupy 6.16 GB of space on your hard drive, once expanded.
The multi-format version includes 5 compressed parts. Parts 1 (2.58 GB) and Part 2 (2.49 GB) are Acidized Wav Files followed by Part 3 (1.32 GB) which are REX Files. Part 4 (2.53 GB) is RMX files and finally, Part 5 (4.99 GB) are the Apple Loops. You don’t need to download all of these but take care to choose the right part for the files you want to work with. Again, Big Fish Audio Customer service is excellent if you happen to mess up. And no, I will not explain how I know that.
Propeller Alternative and Indie Rock Review