There are no prizes for guessing that Funky House Grooves 2 is Sample Magic's follow‑up to the original Funky House Grooves, which received a five-star review in SOS December 2006. The format of the new release follows that of the first, with the 1200 samples (about 800MB in the WAV format I auditioned) being provided in 24‑bit quality in a range of formats: WAV, REX, Refill, Apple Loops, EXS24, Halion and Kontakt. The collection is split into drums (loops and hits), bass, brass, guitar, percussion, keys, FX/Stabs, tops and hats, and filtered one‑shots folders. In the case of the loops, many folders are split into three tempo‑based groups (125, 127 and 130 bpm).
Given that house is a dance‑based format, the drums in a library like this are always going to be important, and Funky House Grooves 2 doesn't disappoint. There are some 180 drum loops, and they're uniformly good — in terms of both sound and performance. Fortunately, the drum mixing has also been done with good taste, so although the kicks are all very solid, the bottom end never gets out of hand.
There is plenty of variety in terms of the drum sounds, but in many cases groups of two or three related loops are provided. The tops and hats folder gives you plenty of extra flexibility too, by offering various bits of the kit without the kick. These could be layered over a full loop or used on their own to make a nice breakdown section.
The percussion folder can also be layered with other elements, and this is a real highlight, offering some excellent conga, bongo, shaker and ensemble performances. The sounds themselves are great, and they can easily add a convincing Afro or Latin influence. The rhythm component is rounded off by a collection of over 400 individual drum hits, so if you do need to programme some additional variations you'll have plenty of ammunition available.
Of the rest of the loops, the keys — which comprise a combination of clav, Rhodes, synths, and the occasional piano and organ — are probably the pick. The clav loops are particularly good, which means it's a shame that there aren't a few more of them (or perhaps I'm just being greedy!). Both the bass and the guitar playing maintain the funky feel, with plenty of super‑clean, bright and tight rhythm playing. The filtered one‑shots and the FX and Stabs folders provide the usual selection of processed hits, whooshes and sweeps as ear-candy. Perhaps the only area that I thought left a little to be desired was the brass. What's included here is fine, but it's perhaps not FHG2's strongest suit, and I felt that the choice was a little limited.
This minor quibble aside, FHG2 packs plenty of punch, and the bulk of what's here, while not breaking any radical new ground, works very well indeed. The sounds are good and the performances hit the right musical spot. As the collection also represents good value for money, I reckon FHG2 is well worth a five-star score. John Walden
£59.95 including VAT$99.95.