AMG add to their growing Catalyst series of sample libraries with this two CD collection (one audio the other WAV). Pretty specific in its target audience, Seminal House features over 380 house-styled drum loops spread over 48 tracks.
The loops are all four bars in length, and the tempos fall predictably within the 'dance floor friendly' range of 120-140 bpm. The actual patterns themselves embrace every house sub-genre (and there are quite a few) from tribal to deep, so there's bound to be something here for even the most stringent purest. All the loops are well programmed with plenty of dance-floor 'thump', while lots of percussion has been used to give the beats an important sense of groove.
With a 'four to the floor' collection like this, it's inevitable that after an hour, some of the loops do begin to sound a touch repetitive. To help combat this, producer The Matrix has tried to mix the samples up a bit with some creative use of effects, filtering and EQ, which adds some much needed flavour to the loops. Also, to inject some extra usability to the beats, some of the loops have up to five variations on the basic rhythm, allowing room for the required dance-floor builds and breakdowns.
The drum loops are followed by 16 tracks of single-drum sounds, from kicks through to percussion hits — always handy to help personalise the pre-programmed loops. The audio CD is rounded off by a track of 26 synth noises and FX. Another two audio tracks of synths (multi-samples and single notes) can be found hidden away amongst the WAVs on the second CD. While these samples initially look like padding, they're actually very good, with some very usable leads and effects. I must also quickly mention the accompanying booklet, which is minimal but very functional, and features some suitably gurning dancers to put you in the mood.
I found it quite hard to mark this release as, on the one hand, there's nothing particularly ground-breaking about four beats to the bar, however well it's dressed up, and if house music production isn't your thing, there's little of interest here. That said, taken as a huge collection of well-produced, house-specific drum loops, Seminal House does the job with some style and will appeal to anyone who wants some chunky, authentic house rhythms quickly and with minimum fuss.
AMG +44 (0)1252 717333.