Format: AUDIO+WAV 2-CD SET
Score: **** 4/5 stars
The dance/house sample library market is extremely well catered for with literally hundreds of titles available, all making claims to provide usable libraries of compelling, dancefloor-filling material. Coming up with something that stands out from the crowd is quite a challenge, but e-Lab are confident they've pulled it off with their newest release.
Nu Directions is an extensive two-CD set, and the audio CD runs to 73 minutes, spans 95 tracks and provides a representative cross-section of the material. However, the WAV CD-ROM is clearly the centrepiece of the collection, containing all the content from the audio CD plus an additional 1100 loops and samples. In total that's 590MB of material, adding up to more than 2000 samples. Nu Directions certainly provides quantity then but what about quality?
I have to say that on the whole it's impressive. As you'd expect from a house CD, there's not a tremendous amount of rhythmic variation or sonic experimentation, but that's in no way meant as a criticism. e-Lab set out to produce a house sample CD, and that's exactly what they've done.
All the loops are either 125 or 130bpm, thumping bass drums dominate and every other element is designed to either reinforce or unobtrusively complement that all-important rhythm. While it may not spring any surprises, the production is consistently excellent, the programming is tasteful and effective, and the sound is warm and lively without becoming harsh or synthetic.
The content is divided into several categories. The 'inspiration kits' follow the familiar construction kit pattern, and a variety of tempo- and key-matched loops is included along with smaller component samples. Building tracks (or at least outlines) takes just a few moments — invaluable when you need to get something together quickly but are short of ideas.
The Loop Tools folders focus exclusively on drum and percussion parts. Getting the beats right is essential and e-Lab have judged it perfectly. The samples range from full, layered drum and percussion loops, to some useful 'no bass drum' rhythm sections and single-instrument percussion patterns.
The Music and Bass loops include a variety of chord sequences, bass lines and melodies to complement the rhythm tracks. These are all expertly played or programmed and there are some very nice Rhodes pianos and analogue synth sounds. As with the drum parts, the tempos are either 125 or 130bpm, and many of the loops are in the same key, making it easy enough to mix a few randomly-chosen components together when you're in a hurry.
The Sound Tools folders provide a selection of useful bits and pieces to round off the collection, including single-hit drum and percussion samples, more Rhodes chords and some nice flute and trumpet phrases. There's also a folder of specially 'Acidised' drum samples as a bonus for anyone using Acid.
While it may not be particularly challenging or revolutionary, Nu Directions delivers a faultlessly produced, easy-to-use library of loops and phrases. If you're looking for a comprehensive house sample library, look no further.
Audio+WAV 2-CD set £59.95 (including VAT).
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