I've been impressed by SonicCouture's previous Abstrakt Breaks loop libraries, so was interested to hear how things had progressed in this recent new release. Tremors comprises more than 50 mini loop-construction kits, totalling 550MB in size and duplicated across WAV, REX, and Apple Loop formats. Each kit contains a fully mixed rhythm loop plus further loops breaking down its composite sonic layers. For browsing purposes, this setup is great, because you can use the full loops to audition lots of sounds quickly, but you can still mix and match to your heart's content, especially if you can use the REX format in your music system.
At the low end. there's a good deal of variety, with enough 808/909-style action to please the Roland die-hards but also a range of tight, punchy, and sub-less kicks for situations where you're already hefting a Manhattan-munching bassline. There's a definite electro bias (as you'd expect from the 'dubstep drums' subtitle), which, despite a certain amount of creative distortion, gives the low-end delivery a direct and sinewy character that always feels like it means business.
Above this foundation, you get all sorts of more or less processed electronic percussion, with a good deal of ripping, glitching and skittering in evidence, and although there's a good deal of variety, there's also definitely a kind of family sound that holds it all together, which is important if you want to mix and match between loops.
The textures manage to remain clear and detailed despite inventive use of crunchy, granular effects and various modulation, delay and reverb treatments, which is something that a number of other libraries I've heard struggle with. If there's too much going on in a sampled loop it can be difficult to fit anything of your own convincingly around it, but there's lots of space to manoeuvre here, and you can always drop out any layers you don't want, given the construction-kit format. The spaces in the rhythm arrangement also allow the carefully applied effects to shine through, and this contributes to an unusually deep and characterful soundfield, which I found very atmospheric.
What really makes or breaks an electronic beat library, though, is the sensitivity of the musicians doing the programming, and I'm pleased to report that my high hopes in this department (based on my experience of the Abstrakt Breaks libraries) proved entirely justified. There's a real art to bringing together drum machines, edited breaks and glitchy sound-design into something that coherently drives a piece of music forward, but SonicCouture make it look simple. Thoroughly worth the outlay. Mike Senior
DVD £42; Download £39. Prices include VAT.
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