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New York City Percussionworks

(DOUBLE AUDIO CD) Rating: **** 4/5 Stars

New York City Percussionworks is a double audio CD bringing together the various talents of some of New York's hottest percussionists. Collectively, their performance credits read like a Who's Who of respected recording artists, and this double audio CD set provides a good showcase for each of the player's talents. Each player is given roughly 30 or so tracks in which to perform, and these are then sub‑sectioned off into loops, fills, effects and individual instrument samples. The standard format seems to be that a player comes up with a percussive loop, then provides sometimes as many as 20 different tempo variations of the same loop. These can start around the 80bpm mark and go up, in increments of 4bpm, right into the 140bpm area.

The playing styles obviously vary from player to player, but the overall feel here is less of a funky contemporary percussion CD and more of a dedicated study of ethnic percussion and all of its complementary formats. Although featuring some wonderfully complex South American multi rhythms, overflowing with buzz and vitality, the larger part of these CDs is given over to the slightly more intelligent and thoughtful side of percussion performance.

One of the many interesting things about this release is the inclusion of some very unusual percussive instruments that you'll almost certainly never have heard of, and it's this originality, coupled with a fantastic recording quality and a good collection of competent and imaginative players, that makes this release well worth a listen. On the down side, what is obviously intended as the 'ultimate percussion sample CD' seems to be a victim of its own success in some respects. I can't imagine many users (no matter how dedicated) sitting through track after track of shaker and tambourine loops at countless different tempos, trying to find exactly the right one, and although including every single one of the percussion sounds as an individual sample seems like a good idea, I personally just don't have the time to dedicate to such a mammoth task as sampling and editing these, and would probably skip over them in search of some instant gratification elsewhere.

Having said all of that, the sleeve notes are clear and easy to follow, and no criticism can take away from the quality of the playing or the interesting depth of sound that New York City Percussionworks has to offer. With its meticulous attention to detail and exciting ethnic overtones it may be something of a specialist's product, but it's a winner all the same. Paul Farrer

Star Tea




2 Stars TETLEY