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Dub Basis | Sound on Sound

Reviewer: Oli Bell Back to Dub Basis product details

This library is a collection of 50 dub and hip-hop construction kits, each one following the well-worn format of an extended burst of the full mix followed by the soloed loops and riffs, and rounded off by all the drum samples as single hits. Tempos cover 70-129bpm, with the majority hovering around a head-nodding 90-100bpm.

The kits themselves are quite complex, with lots of elements and layers to pick and choose from. In terms of style, the kits hover somewhere between the two reference points of dub and hip-hop, often mixing the two, but taking in a far wider range of darker, atmospheric influences. The laid-back feel and liberal use of synths and effects throughout the kits makes lots of the content useable for other genres, including downbeat or even ambient styles. Although inevitably a few of the kits are on the weak side, the majority are inventive and interesting to pick through.

As you would expect, there is plenty of emphasis on the low end, including a nice mixture of electric and synth bass. A few of the bass lines are muddy and lack definition, but the majority are well played and nice and deep. All the beats are well programmed and use a wide variety of drum sounds, both real and electronic, but are surprisingly polite and unassuming in places, perhaps owing more to the dub influences than any heavy hip-hop leanings.

A good chunk of the samples have a nice 'off vinyl' feel (which I'm sure a few are) and have then been run through the effects shredder to produce some interesting riffs and textures. There are also plenty of well-programmed atmospheres and the odd bizarre hit or riff to keep things interesting. On the downside, the brutal slices and ping-pong stereo panning on some of the samples get a touch samey after a while, as does the liberal (and again unsurprising) use of delay. Producer Sean Dvorak is also occasionally rather too heavy-handed with the reverb for my taste, but on the whole all the samples are well put together and recorded.

Although described as dub and hip-hop construction kits (and both influences are in evidence), this collection doesn't really sit easily in either camp, which may confuse the purists. Having said that, Dub Basis contains a good mix of both synthetic and 'real' sounds which, combined with its inventive kits and dark 'smoky' feel, could appeal to producers of most kinds of downtempo electronica. Oli Bell

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