AUDIO CD Rating: **** 4/5 Stars
CD‑ROM Rating: ***** 5/5 Stars
Continuing their excellent series of sample CDs with a distinct air of sonic weirdness, Time & Space have added to the likes of Cuckooland and Ghost In The Machine with Fields Of Motion, volume four in their 'Altered States' series. Setting aside any pretence of polite‑sounding pads or gentle funky loops, producer Mark Pickup (his real name, apparently) has clearly been spending hours and hours trapped down a very deep mine shaft, or stuck in the bowels of a large iron works, with his DAT machine, sampling and recording all manner of bangs, clonks, mechanical fizzes and clicks. To say that this CD has a hard‑edged industrial feel to it would be a bit like saying that Ferrari have made a couple of OK cars over the years. The real beauty of this release, however, is not the fantastic range or depth of the recorded material (although that in itself would probably make a fine SFX CD), but the innovative and unusual way that this disc takes these raw building blocks and stretches, mutilates and morphs the sounds into new and exciting sonic sculptures.
Using the sound of a nail gun, or a steam‑driven turbine as a bass drum, or what sounds like a bag of spanners being thrown into a concrete mixer for hi‑hats might not be everyone's first choice, but Fields Of Motion offers all of these kinds of sounds and then has the audacity to make it sound as if the industrial‑sized water boiler has been an established part of the studio percussion section for years. Fused with all this mechanical madness is a rich seam of dancefloor and jungle influence, giving you a scorching collection of happening dance loops ranging from 60‑208bpm.
This release comes in both audio and CD‑ROM formats, and unlike some other sample CDs gives you exactly the same amount of recorded sample data on both. Also thrown into the deal is a disc containing all the loops as MIDI files. The layout of both the discs and the sleeve notes couldn't be more logical: you get a complete loop (lasting anything between 15 and 30 seconds) followed by all the constituent samples presented on their own, without any unnecessary effects. Of course, in the toss‑up between audio and CD‑ROM formats, the same old arguments for both still apply, but using the MIDI file disc with the ROM version of Fields Of Motion is an absolute doddle, and gives the whole thing a good feeling of interactivity — if I was forced to sample every single noise beforehand, edit them and assign them to the correct keys, it would all have been considerably less fun. Time & Space are, of course, aware of this and are offering the CD‑ROM version for the slightly lower price of £119 (which also includes a free copy of the audio CD version for auditioning purposes); the audio version on its own still retails at the familiar price of £59.95.
Whichever format you choose, several things are clear. Firstly, this is a truly unique product which takes a brave (and wholly successful) step towards providing a good fusion of dance and industrial styles of music. Secondly, the selection of useable sample material, although extremely specialised, will keep even the sampling diehards busy until Christmas. Finally, with a vast resource of 'technical' sounds such as these at your fingertips, you won't have the bother of hiring a gas‑powered pump‑action wire‑brushed garden strimmer to give that elusive sparkle to your percussion tracks in the future. In short; pure metallic steam‑driven wonderment. Paul Farrer
CD‑ROM plus audio CD £119; audio CD £59.95, both including VAT.
5 Stars FEAST
4 Stars FAB
3 Stars ZOOM
2 Stars SPARKLE
1 Stars MINI MILK