Like most labels that can be hung on to musical styles, ‘rock’ will mean different things to different people. In the case of Big Fish Audio’s The Rock Collective, what you are getting is very much a slice of radio–friendly rock that spans the stylistic territories from Train or Coldplay (although perhaps a bit upbeat for the latter) through to Paramore or All Time Low.
The library can be purchased in either a combi–WAV/REX/Apple Loops format or as a Kontakt–ready package. Either way, what you get are 10 very well-stocked construction kits, each featuring multiple song sections — intro, verse, chorus, outro, etc — so you can easily build a full arrangement. The instrumentation is pretty much what you would expect with stereo drum loops, electric bass, acoustic guitars (including some 12 strings) and lots of electric guitar loops... Oh, and the occasional piano, mandolin, tambourine and shaker thrown in for good measure. These are uniformly well played and recorded. They are also very well organised and labelled so, for example, within each kit, sample names include a number (ie. to distinguish guitar 1 from guitar 2) and a letter (A, B, C...) to identify which song section they belong to. This makes it very easy to piece the appropriate loops together.
In addition to the stereo drum mixes within the main construction kits, you also get a further folder of multitrack drum loops, with both processed and raw (as recorded) audio files. These include kick, snare (top and bottom), hi–hat, tom, overhead and room mics (room close and room far); if you want to create your own drum mix then that is perfectly possible. It’s great to have this level of control, but it did leave me feeling greedy for DI’ed versions of the various guitar parts as well. While what’s here is supplied with some excellent choices of guitar tones, being able to dial in your own sound using your favourite guitar amp sim plug–in would obviously give you even more options.
The only other comment I’d make is the usual one about having to work within the confines of the construction-kit format; somebody might build a chart hit from one of these kits before you do. That said, there really isn’t a duff tune amongst this lot and, with some suitably produced vocal parts, these kits could easily stand alongside most ‘rock’ tracks on an MTV or Kerrang playlist. The Rock Collective might not break too many boundaries in terms of musical styles, but it is a very polished and very efficient option for busy music producers or media composers needing a slice of modern, radio–friendly rock. John Walden