Although Guitar Sessions is available as a 5.8GB collection of WAV, REX and Apple Loops files, in this review we are looking at the Kontakt version, which provides a custom interface all of its own.
Guitar Sessions is based on 25 'construction kits', and each kit contains pre‑defined song sections such as verse, chorus, bridge, breakdown, turnaround and outro, played in picking, rhythm and strumming styles. Essentially each kit is a composition broken down into its constituent parts, so that the end user can play around with them and make their own variations.
Helpfully there are Instrument demo files of all 25 kits, and from listening to them it is clear that the indie and alternative styles on offer have a definite Americana feel, thanks in part to the use of slide guitar, mandolin and plenty of tremolo.
Aware that not everyone wants to work with kits, BFA have also created 11 'Single Instruments' interfaces, which group loops by instrument and playing style, disregarding the kit from where they originated. Electric Ambient Picking and Mandolin Rhythm are just two examples. In addition to this there is the option of working with the Sliced Loops interfaces, within which it is possible to make the loop sequences play backwards and to independently alter the order, volume, pitch, pan position, attack and decay of every slice!
Common to all interfaces is the FX page, from where it is possible to edit seven insert effects and processors and four send effects, and there is also a mixer page hosting virtual level and pan sliders for each loop.In terms of performance tools, at the lower end of the keyboard there is an octave of key switches, enabling the user to alter the key of the loops to whatever note they desire. Further up the scale, the active keys for each type of loop appear as coloured blocks, one octave above another, so that it is easy to find the loops that are rhythmical, picked or played on a particular instrument.
BFA should be commended for developing a product which offers different ways of sorting loops and the option of editing them slice by slice. Some users will undoubtedly exploit the editing facilities when crafting their own tracks, while those who lack the time can head straight to the Kit Combos.The musicianship and recording is uniformly excellent throughout, and, although the definition of indie and alternative is not particularly broad, there is a lot of variety in terms of rhythm, instrumentation, texture and tone.Guitar Sessions nails the current Americana indie sound convincingly, and should certainly be of interest to composers wanting to emulate the music of bands fitting that genre, as well as sound designers who want to expand their library of nice‑sounding guitar loops. Tom Flint