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Sample Magic Vintage Breaks Vol 5: Retro Drum Fills

By Tom Flint

How many of us have been put off from sampling a fantastic drum break on an old record because of the difficulties and cost of obtaining sample clearance? Stories of the Verve’s income from ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ all going to the Rolling Stones and Allen Klein because of the sampled string hook are enough to put anyone off!

Vintage Breaks provides 101 royalty– and litigation–free 24–bit drum fills in WAV, Apple Loops and REX2 Loops formats, each one designed to sound like it might have been ripped from some old vinyl disk.

There are no folders or sub folders to sift through, just a long list of audio files, but the titles are descriptive enough to be a useful guide. Names like ‘SM101_drm100_marley_fill’ and ‘SM101_drm82_fillcollins1_fill’, for example, clearly indicate which artist has inspired the break, and the numbers in the titles refer to bpm. Certain tempos like 100, 112 and 120 appear frequently, but the overall range goes from 72 to 178 bpm.

It takes a lot of effort to recreate drums setups, so it is remarkable that almost every break is sonically different to the others. Apparently the producers, Hal Ritson and Alex Reeves, used authentic recording techniques and equipment, and their efforts are evident in the end results.

Sample Magic Vintage Breaks Vol 5: Retro Drum FillsSome of the breaks do show a little carelessness in the production, as there is a bit of overload crackle here and there, plus the odd crack at the end of a sample where the edit has not happened at a zero crossing point, but these are minor complaints. In some instances the overloads might even add to the track.

It would have been useful for song building, however, to have some matching grooves, and they must have been recorded, given that the drummer would have played himself into the break. I suspect that each drum setup was recorded at length, and the samples (most of which are quite short), were cut from each performance and distributed amongst the Vintage Breaks series. Indeed, the product notes state that many of the fills match up with existing drum breaks in the series, which thus far comprises Breakbeats, Disco Breaks, Live and Raw Drum Breaks and Breakneck D&B Vibes, so it might be an idea to buy all five together for the multi–buy discount price, which works out about twice that of a single volume!

If anything, many of the breaks are a little too hi–fi. I did some A/B comparisons with breaks I’d grabbed from old records and this confirmed my thoughts. They are, however, close enough to do the job, and the drummer’s performances cannot be faulted.

There are a great number of very slick, big-budget sample collections out there, but smaller projects like this should not be overlooked, as they often have some unique qualities, and might just include that one inspirational sample that makes a killer track. Tom Flint

Published March 2015