The Loopmasters series should need little introduction to most Reason users. With releases in eleven, sub Genres of Electronica these guys have become one of the major players in this increasing market.
Their recent release, AFRO-LATIN Producer, adds another 1350 samples to their extensive library. Do not assume that this is a CD of cheesy Latin percussion/ bongo loops; this is a real feather in the cap for these London-based lads, and is a powerful addition to a refill library.
The CD comes in the usual formats – Rex Loops, NN-XT patches, WAV loops and one-shot samples, includes a second CD of WAV samples for easy auditioning. Sounds are mostly stereo, high quality and meticulously organized and labeled.
Of course, within, you will find an array of percussive loops, anything from authentic Bossa nova or Samba to Brazilian techno or Drum and Bass to keep your feet moving. In fact, the percussive loops are so extensive that there are separate files for Drums and Percussion, both containing sub-folders by BPM.
However, the real jewel was the amount of “live musicianship” on the disc. It seems that Loopmasters have put together some fine session musicians to record these loops and samples – including: Guitar, funked and jazzed up. Keys, some classic Rhodes loops, Bass lines, FX to name a few.
There is an incredible brass section, which includes sub-folders of trumpet and sax, both demonstrating riffs, trills, solos and more, which sound like they captured the essence of a Cuban waterfront or an Argentinean ballroom. Furthermore, there is such a large amount of such samples, that it allows the user to layer loops with more choice.
Overall, this is a new direction for the Loopmasters, and as a result, a disc that is more outstanding. These sounds can easily be incorporated into Electro/Lounge tunes such as can be heard on the Costes compilations for example. Fine for D&B, funky house, Acid Jazz, Funk and so on. Anyone who is looking to add a bit of “spice” to their recordings ought to consider this disc and is a must have for anyone into anything Latino. Let’s smoke a cigar.
AFRO LATIN PRODUCER
Sound on Sound, February 2006
This is the eleventh library in the Loopmasters Origin series. and comprises more than 600MB of sample data split over 1000 loops. Seeing 'Latin' in any sample library title brings the word 'percussion' instantly to mind. However, while there are a good number of drum and percussion loops provided, this library also contains folders of bass, guitar, keyboard, sax, trumpet, and vocal loops, so all elements of a typical production are represented.
All the instrument groups are subdivided on the basis of tempo, and these cover a range from 90bpm to more than 160bpm. Aside from the aforementioned drum and percussion loops, there is also a folder of individual drum hits that covers all the usual suspects. Usefully, there are Reason NNXT, Halion, Kontakt, and EXS24 patches for both the standard kit sounds and percussion sets if you do like to programme your own rhythms. This added flexibility is great, but the drum and percussion loops are also so good that there is an easy route if, like me, your drumming skills are somewhat limited!
Good though the rhythmic material is, what really sets this collection apart are the pitched instrument loops. From bass guitar through to trumpet, the quality and feel in the playing is excellent and, as a result, the vibe created by the individual instrument loops is extremely convincing. At first glance, the file names look a bit odd, but they actually contain a lot of useful information. For example, AL_Bass_Cuba_CFG_115 would be a Cuban-inspired bass loop cycling through the notes 'C', 'F', and 'G', with an original recording tempo of 115bpm. This same file-name convention is used with chord sequences for many of the guitar or keyboard loops, and there are plenty of ninth, 11th, and 13th chords thrown in for good measure — great for a touch of Latin-influenced jazz. For me, the highlights are probably the nylon-strung-guitar loops and the brass (both sax and trumpet), but even the vocal loops are full of character.
I could imagine these sounds would appeal to anyone interested in Latin-tinged music, from pop (think Enrique Iglesias) through to contemporary takes on more authentic South American styles such as salsa or rumba. Throughout, the recording quality is very good, and the user is completely free to use the loops in any type of commercial recording. If there is a minor downside, it is that Loopmasters have avoided going down the construction-kit route and, given the sometimes exotic chord voicings and the often jazz-influenced melodic lines of the brass, it does take a little extra work to find two or three loops that work together harmonically. On the other hand, this could be seen simply as a reflection of the dominance of melodic and chord-based loops in the library. The bottom line is that, while Afro-Latin Producer may not be everyone's musical cup of tea, the playing is full of genuine Latin vibe and it also represents excellent value for money.