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Sample Library
Published December 2001



The latest release from Spectrasonics forms part of the Classic Drumming Series, an ongoing library produced by Eric Persing and Bob Wilson. Any musicians familiar with other titles in the series will not be surprised to hear that this set is of very high quality and that much time and effort has been put into it. Backbeat features four of America's leading drummers, whose credits are impressively wide‑ranging and include such names as Steve Vai and Herbie Hancock. The CD which results from their combined talents offers an immense array of stunning grooves — all played on real acoustic kits, by real people!

The material offered, with tempos ranging from 65bpm to 148bpm, is biased towards use in pop and rock tracks. There is nothing run‑of‑the‑mill about the quality of the performances, but the grooves themselves, recorded as four‑ or eight‑bar phrases, are probably best regarded as quite 'straight ahead'. However, there is a great variety of them, from basic 'Billie Jean'‑type pop to highly‑intricate shuffle, the latter capturing every nuance of snare stroke with great subtlety. A substantial number of fills is included with each section (and plenty of cymbals, too). These can be flown in where appropriate.

A flick through the sleeve notes reveals even more nice surprises: many of the grooves have been captured using very high‑end D‑A conversion, or recorded straight to half‑inch analogue tape, for a traditional, seriously fat sound. The recording kit list includes vintage Neve consoles and classic microphones by Telefunken, Schoeps and RCA, as well as a more familiar array of European microphones. And the drum rooms used are themselves steeped in history, most notably Studio B at Capital Records, which has previously been used by the likes of The Beatles and Frank Sinatra!

Experienced sample‑CD users may be familiar with Groove Control (available with Backbeat's CD‑ROM formats), which offers the ability to employ MIDI‑triggered versions of grooves, in the same way that Propellerhead's ReCycle software can. The benefits of the technique are considerable, allowing easy tempo changing without affecting timbre, and the power to create groove‑quantise templates to use elsewhere in your track. Although there is nothing new about this concept, I suspect that a staggering amount of time has gone into its presentation on Backbeat, to ensure that the grooves maintain their integrity under triggered playback. Certainly, in my tests I could achieve phase cancellation when the triggered grooves were played back against the audio version.

If you have a need for exceptionally well recorded standard drum grooves that really do groove, this is a library you should audition. Added to the other titles in the Classic Drumming Series, it contributes to an extensive library of formidable grooves. Dave Gale