Cuckooland Volume One: Unhinged has got...
Cuckooland Volume One: Unhinged has got to win the prize for title of the year. As you might expect, the contents of this 70-minute, 99-track audio CD are about as far-out as the Hubble telescope and as patently insane as another term of Conservative government. The CD starts as it means to go on, with 98 seconds of twisted, mangled sound effects and drones. Imagine the most eclectic and harsh whooshes, swoops, whizzes, pops and bangs, shove them through the latest state-of-the-art outboard gear, and you're getting close to the kind of feel that this release has throughout.
Loops form the main body of sounds on this CD, in the form of both drum breaks and instrumental passages, but often these boundaries are cleverly blurred, resulting in chunks of rhythm and sound simply aching to be sampled and used in new and exciting ways. The bpms are listed where appropriate, and there's a good amount of variation within the loops themselves, so chopping them up into different sections is a piece of (fruit) cake. There are some great live sax, guitar, bass and drum performances, all of which are the sonic equivalent of being chewed up, spat out and left in the sun to dry, before being stuck back together again with luminous sticky tape.
The 81 loop tracks each have between one and nine different loop styles, and at the end of the CD there are some incontinence-inducingly low bass sounds, as well as a good selection of individual drum and FX samples ranging from the conventional to the totally deranged and manic. As you might have guessed, this is no ordinary CD, and mainstream, non-experimental musos should steer well clear in favour of a cup of herbal tea, a Phil Collins album and a nice lie down. The rest of us, however, can bask in the pear-shaped peculiarity of off-beat drum loops, distorted pad effects, flanged atmospheres, and the kind of stereo treatment that should carry a government health warning.
With so much unrestrained nuttiness flying around, you'd think that much of this CD would be confined to the 'Interesting-but-unusable' pile. This, however, is not the case. The more I listened to Unhinged, the more ideas it gave me for the kind of tracks I really should be making. Even so, I would have loved to see more pads and ambience samples, as well as a few vocal phrases and effects - maybe for a future release? As it stands, Unhinged is full of sounds the like of which you will never have heard, and if it doesn't breathe new life into your compositions, then I'm a large Swiss cheese called Brenda.
Bit of a classic here that's been...
Bit of a classic here that's been repackaged as a triple CD, but with this many sample formats you need three CDs to get it all on there! The set kicks off with a fine collection of textures, effects and instrument sounds that admirably illustrate the quality of sound design that's in abundance here.
There are metallic drones and timbres, hits, stabs, growls, unearthly ambiences and generally strange layered business all round, before we move into the loops section that's conveniently tempo grouped from a sedate 68bpm up to a more manic 170bpm. This section accounts for the bulk of the CD and it's more of the same madness, although these have a tempo to them! There are off-the-wall loops throughout, from machine noise, underwater blurps,echoing hits and stabs to minimal clattering drums, heavily sucking compressed grooves and all sorts of other oddness, before finishing up with a solid bunch of hits, loops and percussion.
It's hard to categorise this collection, but where it wins over similar sets is that despite the diverse range of bizarre sounds and loops it's the inherent warmth that always shines through, and I reckon anyone from any side of the tracks would find this CD useful in lots of ways.
This massive collection has been...
This massive collection has been re-released in as many formats as any musician could possibly hope for, which immediately makes it a more enticing proposition. It's a very inspiring and interesting collection of non-standard and other worldly sounds, instruments, effects, loops and pure sample madness.
That said, some of the samples seem to lack presence and high end sheen - it almost sounds as if someone has been a bit too trigger happy with their 24db low-pass filter. Sling them all together in a mix and you'll find it appears 'dull' in terms of the upper frequency range.
That said, most of the sounds are so cool that, over time, you may well make use of nearly all of the content. Just about worth the wonga then, and a Godsend for anyone who's wanted this popular CD in a specific format.
Loops, percussion breaks, and musical...
Loops, percussion breaks, and musical samples: this CD's got it all. Kiddie pictures of the guilty parties, Simon Mills and lan Sanderson, adorn the inlay of the CD, along with resumes of their antics - Simon Mills makes things - so we're told, and likes the flashing lights, and the opportunity to create environments from sound, as it keeps him safe from the 'real world'. Fair enough. Ian Sanderson, on the other hand, likes surprises and adventures with natural ingredients. But does all this come across on Cuckooland? Well the simple answer is a resounding "yes".
99 tracks are provided, covering a diverse range of styles and tempi. Live drums are provided by Marc Layton-Bennet, guitar textures by James Hastings, bass riffs come courtesy of Dylan Collard and Daryl Lomax, with saxophone by Keith JaFrate. And the grooves and individual sounds themselves? The rather quirky 'Lucky Dip' section, which is billed as'98 Seconds Of Assorted Madness', is exactly that. The following loops increment in BPM counts as one progresses through the CD; from 67.7 Bpm to a manic 170 Bpm on 'Take Your Pick'.
Not only drum sounds are employed, but also a battalion of what sound like sampled household implements and curious effects. The loops, especially, are wonderfully diverse in style, lending themselves well to many styles. Production is exemplary throughout, if slightly noisy on a few tracks and the musicianship is of a high standard. The Drums and Percussion section boasts 32 snares, 13 kicks, 24 Hats, and an additional 86 assorted drum and non-drum hits. Yet another worthy addition to Zero-G's armoury.