Big Fish Audio | Keyboard Magazine Ken Hughes | Funk City Product Review
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Funk City | Keyboard Magazine

Reviewer: Ken Hughes Back to Funk City product details

Pros: Loaded with vibe and greaze. Horn riffs are particularly outstanding. Many long riffs make good fodder for cut-and-dupe customization.

Cons: Bass riffs not up to the high standard set by the other material in the set. What is hip? This library of riffs and grooves. There's a lot of Tower of Power flavor here, from taut-toned and mostly dry funky drums, to chicken-scratch guitar, to loping congas, to Clavinet, Rhodes, and organ riffs.

First, the lowlights: I'm sorry to say I found more fitting bass line material in Garageband's factory library of MIDI grooves. Don't get me wrong, the supplied bass lines are well-played and superbly recorded, I just wasn't feeling them the way I felt the other stuff, and the Apple Loops prep seems a tad sloppy; even changes of 2 bpm made some of the bass loops gargle like a hungover frat boy on the morning after hazing. For rhythmic sticklers, the fact that many of the parts within each key/bpm "set" have different feels from straight to swing will be a bummer. I liked that, though; I had to be more careful about which riffs I put together, but the results sounded very human. Funk and soul guys often play straight against swing for some cool rhythmic tension. Go to and hear a couple hours' work to see what I mean.

Drum grooves are in good supply. There's really no filler here. The kits are mostly dry, with that characteristic high, tight snare that pops through the instrument mix just right. Kicks are not super prominent, more felt than heard, but there is a good amount of attack there; in short, just what's called for here. Included drum hits make it easy to add ghost notes, augment fills, or do any of that sort of micro-customization that lifts your music out of cookie-cutter hell. I found that the drums blended rather seamlessly with Garageband's factory pop kit, too. The producers really nailed the TOP horn sound, and there's a lot involved there; the playing has to be skin-tight, the mics chosen and placed carefully and specifically, and the EQ, processing, and mix done just right. These riffs really rip it up. The trumpets are bright and clear, the tenor saxes are snaky and vocal, and the bari sounds like it was played by Doc Kupka himself. Good, good stuff.

A decent selection of guitar parts is on hand, with the right tone and taste for this kind of thing, along with some nifty conga loops. Rounding out the collection are a number of good-n-funky Clav, Hammond, and Rhodes parts. There might be better R&B/funk horn libraries out there, but not at this price and not with everything else FC offers. The cost of living's quite low in Funk City and it's a pretty nice place to be.

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