Rating: 4/5 stars ****
Dirt Bag by Simeon promises "hundreds of grungy, fresh and inspiring dance samples", and that's a fairly accurate description of what's on offer here. The collection is available in a variety of formats, including REX2 files and Refills, although the version reviewed here is the plain old-fashioned audio CD.
I have one minor whinge to get out of the way: since the CD is available in a variety of formats, and since the layout of the content is presumably slightly different in each case, AMG have decided not to print a track listing anywhere on the jewel case inlay. Instead, the track listing and other documentation are provided as PDF files on the CD. This is a perfectly workable solution for the data formats, where the CD will be in your computer's CD-ROM drive; but for the audio CD it's a little bit annoying, especially if you're sampling from a standard CD audio player.
The first 24 tracks of the audio CD are filled with the inevitable construction kits, which are referred to as 'Mini Tracks'. Short sections of a finished track are provided, and are broken down into their component parts. Ranging in tempo from 80 to 160 bpm, these tracks offer a fair variety of material, all falling broadly within the 'breaks' or 'big beats' genres of dance music. Most of the tracks are very well produced, boasting a suitably rough, bass-heavy, compressed sound -- plenty to get the heads nodding. Occasionally, producer Simeon seems to have run short of ideas, but for the most part it's all good, usable material.
Tracks 25 to 69 are exclusively drum loops, which should please the CD's beat-hungry audience. Most of the loops feature three or four differently programmed variations, and are also broken down into single hits. Again, the production is faultless, and the programming exemplary.
Tracks 70 and 71 are given over to basses, including some very nice electric sounds, and some nasty, noisy distorted phrases. It's a pity more basses aren't included as those that are here are very good. Tracks 72 to 77 round off the collection and are filled with a good selection of appropriately head-mangling acidy synth FX.
Dirt Bag does a commendable job of providing what it promises, and shouldn't disappoint fans of rough-edged beat-driven dance tracks. The content sounds as it should, and its availability in those proprietary data formats could be a time-saver for many. If you're happy to print your own track listing (or manage without one), Dirt Bag has much to recommend it.
Audio, Refill or REX format £60; Akai Z-series/S5000 format £99.