AUDIO CD Rating: **** 4/5 Stars
With so many computer‑generated rhythms about, however well programmed they may be, a real player with real drums can always inject that certain something extra. If nothing else, the sound of a real kit captured in stereo will exhibit the resonances and interaction that is always missing from a collection of individual sampled sounds. Charlie Morgan's Master Drums 3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by providing just this — a real drummer playing a real kit. This third volume is inspired by world music, but still using Charlie's favoured Premier drums and Paiste cymbals. Rhythms are attributed to Nigeria, Jamaica, South Africa, India and Pakistan, Morocco, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, as well as a couple from the USA (military press rolls and Texas country!). Some of the descriptions are somewhat imaginative (pattern 5 is described as 'Walking tall though the Serengeti. Giraffe pace.'), but music is meant to be fun, isn't it?
The sounds themselves are eminently useable, with all of the 33 main patterns presented as complete performances: one bar of intro, five bars of groove, a one‑bar fill, two bars of alternate groove, a second fill, two bars of groove, third fill, two bars of groove and an end bar. Each of these performances is followed by a couple of edited one‑bar grooves from the pattern. Given the amount of variation that occurs within each performance, the inventive samplist ought to be able to extract additional loops by starting at other points within a bar. The tracks are grouped into tempos from 70bpm, through 80, 85, 90, 100, 105, 110, and 115, to 120bpm, with generally three or four performances at each tempo. Each of the 33 main patterns is recorded dry (tracks 1 to 33) but ambient versions are included as tracks 39 to 71. These do not have gratuitous reverb slapped on, but incorporate more room ambience by mixing in more distant mics. Both the dry and ambient versions are very clean recordings — although a tiny bit of hum and hiss can be heard if you listen on cans, I would defy anyone to hear it in the context of a mix. The ambient versions have enough of the room included to allow them to be used on tracks as they are, without any further effects, and I'm sure that this is the intention.
If you intend to plunder this CD for a wide variety of rock‑based world rhythms, the only thing that I feel duty‑bound to remind you is that although these loops are inspired by world music, they're all played on a standard rock kit — if you need the sound of ethnic log drums then look elsewhere. As an extra, tracks 34 to 38 are the 'Mongo Loops', and these provide a selection of dry recorded pre‑edited loops (29 in total) which range from 90 to 138bpm. Again, these are of good quality, but are unashamedly rock‑based, and they are certainly worth having as useful extras. This CD almost slipped through the net, with so many arriving in the SOS offices on such a regular basis, but sounds such as these don't suffer from a short shelf life. It may have been out for some months, but a classic like this doesn't date that easily. Martin Walker
£59.99 including VAT & UK p&p.
5 Stars FEAST
4 Stars FAB
3 Stars ZOOM
2 Stars SPARKLE
1 Stars MINI MILK