Monday, 20 April 2015

Spitfire Audio eDNA01 EARTH Review: from Blockbuster Movie Scores to Scorching Dance Production, this Instant Classic is Sure to Excel

Much-loved UK Company Changes the Game with it's Attention to Detail and Ambition

Spitfire Audio is synonymous with excellence in sound design, especially revered for its gorgeous orchestral sounds; with fans including such luminaries as Grammy Award winning composer Craig Armstrong OBE, singer-songwriter powerhouse Gary Barlow OBE and multi-award winning Composer (and Spitfire collaborator) Hans Zimmer to name but a few.
 
A game changing sample library, 'EARTH' is immense, both in its scale and sonic quality.
Released late last year to much deserved fanfare, excitement and praise, Spitfire's 'eDNA ('Electronic DNA') 01 EARTH' takes the lush instrumentation that Spitfire is known for and flipped it on its head.

By mangling a diverse and extensive - and I do mean extensive - collection of Spitfire's recordings through numerous effects and scripting, 'EARTH' turns a set of sounds that were once flawlessly lifelike into an other-worldly sonic palate.  These sounds are sure to find many a welcome home in the more uncompromising and abrasive corners of the dance music world as well as TV, Cinema, video game and documentary soundtrack work.


Get acquainted with Spitfire Audio's game-changing 'eDNA 01 EARTH', your new favourite library.

Every preset, bar none, gives instant gratification.  This is no mean feat, considering that 'EARTH' is a massive 45GB's worth of samples, losslessly compressed to 27GB. I did say it was extensive.

Every preset gives instant gratification, no mean feat considering that 'Earth' is a massive 45GB's worth of samples...This is frankly, in both size and quality, a staggering collection  

With over 1900 sounds and 1001 presets, it would be impossible to even attempt to cover everything that this sample powerhouse has to offer, but here's a very brief overview of what users can expect from each of the six stylistic folders, referred to as 'cartridges', that make up what is frankly, in both size and quality, a staggering collection:

0001 APOCALYPZ (Formerly known as 'Dyztopia')

As the name suggests, this gnarly cartridge is crying out to be used in the more abrasive corners of EDM, as well as TV, movie and video game soundtracks.  Filled with 'Atmos', bass, drops & rises, drums & percs, effects, keys, leads and sequences which have all been tortured in a variety of ways; even the 'simple' hand claps sound beaten and battered within an inch of their lives.

Here's a little demo I put together using APOCALYPZ, the suitably menacing 'Interfearance' (sic).  Many thanks to Phashara / Corry Banks of bboytechreport.com for the vocal contribution.  I put this together in minutes, which is testament to just how inspirational and intuitive 'EARTH' is.

Effects such as ‘all hell lets loose’ and the brain-tickling ‘super ill rocket motor’ sound like they’d find a loving home on Doctor Who.  The sequences, such as ‘Angry Rhythm MW is Res Filter’ will jump-start many a producer’s creative process; working just as well as the foundation for a track as a little something to add extra zing to an already jumping production.  Call these sequences the perfect antidote to creative block.


Angry and attention-grabbing, cartridge 0001 APOCALYPZ (Formerly known as 'Dyztopia') is ideal for sci-fi TV, movie and video game soundtracks; and in-your-face electronic music.

0002 Sound Swamp

This is where things start to get really spooky.  This cartridge contains drones, effects, keys, sequences and synth pads.

The massive selection of synth pads in this cartridge really deserves extra special attention.  These are broken down into three equally breathtaking sub-sections, namely 'Archaic', 'Ethereal' and 'Mystic'.

Whilst each pad is very inspirational, two that immediately caught my attention were the unnerving but beautiful ‘church pad’ and the ‘Onyx Growl Pad Surround MW’ which sounds like a haunted spaceship floating on the edge of the universe.


Cartridge 0002, Sound Swap, is sure to send a shiver down your spine, with a great selection of haunting pads being one of it's main strengths.

0003 Discoman

As the name suggests, this is where we take time out from being terrified by presets which sound like possessed pieces of heavy machinery, or messages transmitted by a remote dying star, and get funky, thanks to a wonderful selection of bass, keys, leads, pads, sequences and strings.

Like every other cartridge on here, it would take days, if not weeks, to just audition all of the sounds.  With that in mind, instant faves include the foot stomping ‘5th Hall Bass – Auto Pan’.  This funk-filled bass is sure to get feet tapping, heads nodding and, erm, booties shaking on any track it blesses.

Elsewhere ‘5th Keys Gate’ is a glorious set of 90’s dance keys.  ‘Breathy Keys 12ths’ would be right at home in anything from dance, to future R'n'B and hip hop.

As well as keys, another of 'Discoman's  immediately evident strengths is it's collection of strings. 

In another instance of Spitfire going above and beyond, the beautiful ‘Slow Strings MW’ is comparatively unmangled.  Its sister preset however, the ‘Space Laser Strings’, is a more effects-laden affair.  Both of these presets also have handily sidechained counterparts for easy access to that all-important ‘ducking’ sensation.

The commitments to detail and user experience is in-keeping with the ethos evident throughout this fantastic piece of software.

    …the more knowledgeable musician can tinker to their heart's delight...the novice will spend less time getting frustrated by their technical limitations and more time getting inspired and enjoying making music…

The 'EARTH' user interface includes numerous effects including LFO's, filters, gating, tape style saturation and more, which means that the more knowledgeable musician can tinker to their hearts delight.  Such a wide amount of dials and graphs may intimidate the newbie.  Thankfully, however, the staggering quality of the presets, and the nice 'hand-ups'-like 'sidechained strings' will ensure that the novice spends less time getting frustrated by their technical limitations and spends more time getting inspired and enjoying making music.


Enough of being scared witless.  Time to boogie with basslines dripping with funk and keys that evoke a vintage 90's dance sound, courtesy of cartridge 0003, Discoman. 

0004 Moviedrome

Moviedrome lives up to its name, with a staggering amount of blockbuster-ready sounds.  Included in this kit are a vast array of strings and a nice selection of woodwinds.  If you are looking for a more straightforward set of sounds to compliment the more 'alien' sounds elsewhere, this is a good place to start.

One immediate favourite on this cartridge is the divine bubbling stream of ‘Celestial Reveal’.  However, there are again numerous sonic treats within this cartridge.

In fact, I found this cartridge so inspirational that I put together the below demo in just a few minutes.  I cannot wait to get started on creating a fully-fledged track, based around several of 'EARTH's sounds.

All of the sounds on my above demo track 'Pyramids', aside from drums, come from 'EARTH'.  Again, like 'Interfearance', 'Pyramids' was put together in several minutes, thanks to the inspirational and intuitive nature of 'EARTH'.
 
It's no exaggeration to say that I'll be sure to spend the next few months not only working on new ideas with this trusty tool as an essential piece of kit, but also going back to older tracks to give them an 'EARTH' makeover.  


Cartridge 0004 'Moviedrome' will have you scoring soundtracks to your favourite 80's movies in no time.

0005 Analoganaut

Looking for plenty of funky analogue basses and pads which will have you scoring 80's movies soundtracks in no time?  Analoganaut has you covered.  There is a wide selection of basses, an equally large range of pads entitled 'Dawn of Digital' sounds, keys, leads, pads and sequences.  The sounds on offer pay homage to electronic pioneers such as Wendy Carlos and Vangelis, 'Droog Pad Voweled' and 'Deep Plinks Voweled mw' being two of the immediate standouts.

  The movie theme continues with cartridge 0005, Analoganaut, which evokes the sounds of legends Tangerine Dream, Wendy Carlos, Vangelis and more.

0006 Disphoria 

Last but certainly not least, Disphoria has a welcome mix of  bass, falls, leads, plucks, sequencers and synths. 

One of the things that is so good about this cartridge is that, in a style similar to 'Moviedrome', it mixes, for want of a better phrase, 'every day' go-to staples, e.g. nice, clean basses, brassy synths, etc., which every musician needs in their tool kit, with more outlandish and unique sounds.  This means that, perhaps more so than any of the other kits, musicians may find this dark horse of a cartridge the one they use most often.

Mixing 'every day' staples - nice, clean basses, brassy synths -  with more outlandish and unique sounds means that this cartridge may be the one artists use most often.

Highlights include the wonderfully snappy 'Hardstyle Gated Bass Filter Is MW' and the space invader sounds of  '8ue Fall MW is Mouth' and 'Bitey Filter Drop MW is Res LPF', which are just two of a very generous amount of attention grabbing falls.  The 'Misunderstood Pluck' lends itself very well to Disclosure-style funky house and garage whilst sequences such as 'Clicky Clarinets Is MW is LPF' are begging to be used on a big D'n'B track.  The beyond funky 'Squelchy Pulser MW' also shines as a synth highlight. 


Ending on a high, 0006 Disphoria will find a home on anything from UK funky house and garage hits, through to D'n'B bangers.  Wonderful. 

Overall Impressions 

It's obvious that I hold 'EARTH' in the very highest of regards.  Now, one word of advice to very new musicians / beatmakers: 'EARTH', like many other libraries, uses Native Instrument's Kontakt Player.  This is free and can be downloaded and registered from the Native Instruments website here.

If you have not used Kontakt before, it is worth familiarising yourself with how it works via the free libraries that come with Kontakt before buying 'EARTH'.

You could even donate £2 to Unicef and get a nifty sample pack from Spitfire here.  That way, you will gain experience in loading and enjoying Spitfire products in Kontakt before investing in 'EARTH' and you'll also get a nice, warm fuzzy feeling for helping out a very worthwhile cause in the process.

A game-changer and an instant classic, 'EARTH' is a must for any musician, be they professional, semi-professional, or a dedicated enthusiast.

At £149 at time of press, 'EARTH' is an absolute bargain.  This is a library that will grow in value as the new beatmaker / musican grows in knowledge and experience.  The sounds on offer cover such a wide spectrum of applications that, if your musical direction changes, 'EARTH' will still be right there with you.  A game-changer and an instant classic, 'EARTH' is a must for any musician, be they professional, semi-professional, or a dedicated enthusiast. 

Verdict

Pros:
An absolutely massive range of FANTASTIC preset sounds.
A wide range of process and control possibilities.
A very reasonable price.

Cons:

None.  However, new beatmakers should perhaps practice installing and using sample libraries in Kontakt Player before buying 'EARTH'. 

Total Rating:5/5

This product is a classic and deserves top marks by The New Beatmaker.

'EARTH' is the much-deserved recipient of our first full mark rating, earning itself the first ever The New Beatmaker Award for Excellence.  Bravo!

To buy Spitfire Audio 'eDNA 01 EARTH' and for more information, visit: http://www.spitfireaudio.com

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Nascent Electronica / Hip Hop artist Sombrero Galaxy talks Native Instruments Maschine, Shabazz Palaces, El-P and more

Nascent Electronica / Hip Hop artist Sombrero Galaxy talks Native Instruments Maschine, Shabazz Palaces, El-P and more

Sorry all, I goofed up.

Electro / hip hop producer Sombrero Galaxy's 'Midnight Ghosts' was one of The New Beatmaker's favourite projects of 2014

At the time of release I called it 'the super-charged soundtrack to a Philip K Dick adaptation... a brilliant introduction to an artist who looks very much set to become one of electronic music's brightest stars.'


Sombrero Galaxy's debut EP 'Midnight Ghosts' took a very well deserved place in The New Beatmaker's best of 2014 list, which can be read in full here.

After making such a big impression on The new Beatmaker it only made sense to invite Sombrero Galaxy to take part in our round up of 2014 (for more on that, click here). 

Sombrero subsequently sent the following, in plenty of time before the deadline, and somehow I messed up and didn't include his responses.  Here's what the man himself had to say.  A thousand apologies, Sombrero.

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'Native Instruments Maschine.  I love the feel of the pads and the intuitive workflow.'

Favourite software of 2014: 'iMaschine.  I am always using it to make quick beats and come up with ideas.

I can then transfer the project over to Maschine and expand further; and Valhalla VintageVerb.  This underrated reverb plugin is nicely dusty and crusty.'

Favourite sample pack of 2014: 'Loopmasters Hip-Hop Instrumentals.  This sample pack is not technically not from 2014, but I used it often in 2014.'
 
Favourite song of 2014: 'Shabazz Palaces "Forerunner Foray".  Shabazz Palaces are criminally underrated because they are so far ahead of their time. They are the next evolution of hip-hop.'


Shabazz Palaces' "Forerunner Foray" was Sombero Galaxy's favourite song of 2014.  Chances are this video will be on plenty of people's best of 2015 lists...

Favourite album of 2014: 'Run the Jewels "Run the Jewels 2''.  An instant classic. This is what can happen when you don't give a shit about anything but the music.'

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'El-P.  El-P is a monster MC, beatmaker, and producer. Basically, you can't fuck with this dude.'
Shabazz Palaces are criminally underrated because they are so far ahead of their time. They are the next evolution of hip-hop.
Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: 'Soundcloud.  I'm always finding new tunes on SC. I'm also a Web Developer, and I appreciate the craft that went into designing the site.'

Highlight of 2014: 'Releasing music after many years.'

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: 'I plan to put more focus on my guitar work in my music, and also release a hip-hop EP that a friend and I have been working on.'

The New Beatmaker cannot wait to hear what Sombrero Galaxy has to offer in 2015.  For more from the man himself, check him out at the below:

sombrerogalaxymusic.com
facebook.com/sombrerogalaxymusic
soundcloud.com/sombrerogalaxy

Sombrero Galaxy features on episode four of 'Soundcloud Sessions': a back-to-back collection of future beats, hip hop, jazz and more.   

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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ed Rowe Talks Favourite Hardware, Software, Albums and Artists

One of The New Beatmaker's favourite MC's of 2014 was Brooklyn's own Ed Rowe.

From being introduced to the instantly likeable MC via the Essenchill Records release 'Essenchill', to 'Changes' being crowned as one of our top 14 tracks of 2014, the MC has made a big impression on this site, thanks to his nimble lyricism, distinctive voice and social conscious outlook.

The New Beatmaker talked to Ed Rowe shortly after the New Year, and discussed his favourite hardware, software, music of 2014 and more.

Sidenote: Due to timing issues, the below was not included in the Roundup of 2014 as originally intended.  The  2014 round up, featuring M-Phazes, $1 Bin, Evil Alex, T-Funk and many more from The New Beatmaker family, can be enjoyed in full here.

Favourite hardware of 2014: Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones.  Just got these at the end of the year, but better late than never.  Everything sounds great through them, and it's making recording & mixing so much easier!

Favourite software: Ableton Live.  It's only the Intro version, but it's basically the only software I can seem to operate properly lol.

Favourite song of 2014: Rapsody - 'Hard To Choose'. I slept on her initially, but this song awakened me to how dope she is.

Favourite album of 2014: Not exactly HipHop, but that new D'Angelo album 'Black Messiah' is incredible.  Waited ages for his follow-up to 'Voodoo', but it was well worth the wait.


And the album of the year is...D'Angelo and The Vanguard's 'Black Messiah'.  The album of the year for The New Beatmaker, M-Phazes, Carvalho and many more participants of our 2014 roundup.

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: BJ The Chicago Kid.  Took the time to start appreciating his music earlier in the year, and haven't looked back since.  Somewhat of a throwback to the Jodeci era with that fusion of R&B, Soul, and HipHop, and I'm a big fan of that sound.

Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: The Bleacher Report app to satisfy my sports junkie cravings, and Soundcloud, as it's the place where I discover the best new music. 

Highlight of 2014: Collaborating with Sleep Sinatra and KVH on separate EPs.  I've worked with Sleep on various songs in the past, but to join forces for a whole project really solidified our chemistry on a larger scale.  Being fortunate enough to work with the very talented producer KVH was also a blessing.  Having him join Essenchill Records was just the icing on the cake.

'Change' is so eerily relevant to the current racial landscape in America, focusing on police brutality and the injustices black people suffer in America. 

Low point of 2014: This was kind of bittersweet, but making a song called 'Change' and having it be so eerily relevant to the current racial landscape in America (the song focuses on police brutality and the injustices black people suffer in America).

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: More music, better music, and most of all...more performing.

Protest songs in the form of 'Change' and 'Changes' / 'Change (Remix)'.  Rest in peace to Eric Garner and Mike Brown.  

Many, many thanks to Ed Rowe for taking the time out to chat and a big, big shout out to all the good people over at Essenchill Records.

Ed Rowe features on episodes Five, Six and Seven of 'Soundcloud Sessions': a back-to-back collection of future beats, hip hop, jazz and more.   

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'Live at Berklee': A.R. Rahman, Berklee Indian Ensemble and World Strings; Down In The Attic; Ludovica Burtone String Quartet

Live, Intimate Performances from the World's Largest Independent College of Contemporary Music

The New Beatmaker is very proud to present the latest in a regular series of videos capturing live, intimate performances from students and alumni of the world famous Berklee College of Music.

Firstly, legendary composer, singer-songwriter and music producer A. R. Rahman returns to Berklee with a breathtaking performance of 'Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera' from the Bollywood classic 'Swades', with the wonderful Berklee Indian Ensemble and Berklee World Strings.


Following up we have some great Bluegrass courtesy of Down In The Attic.  Check out their original composition, the rousing, spirited 'Bearapple' below, and be sure to check them out on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/downintheattic



Last but not least, a gorgeous original composition from the Ludovica Burtone String Quartet, 'Blazing Sun'.  Be sure to check out more from this superb Quartet at http://ludovicaburtone.com.



Many thanks to Berklee College of Music yet again. Be sure to look out for more 'Live at Berklee' in the coming months.

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

D'Angelo & The Vanguard Live Review: D'Angelo & The Vanguard Celebrate their Instant Classic with a Triumphant Return to London

D'Angelo & The Vanguard Celebrate their Instant Classic with a Triumphant Return to London 

Performing for over two hours to an ecstatic capacity crowd, D'Angelo & The Vanguard's first of two nights at London's Eventim Apollo was a victory befitting of their instant classic 'Black Messiah'.

By mixing many of the highlights from the project with long-held fan favourites, D'Angelo and band kept the crowd on their feet for most of the night; from the funk-filled reworking of 'Brown Sugar' and perennial party starter 'Chicken Grease', through to the jazz influences of 'Sugah Daddy' and 'Back to the Future'.  The crowd only caught it's breath on the more slow paced numbers, such as the delightfully sweet 'Real Love'.

An energetic reworking of 'Brown Sugar' further energized the crowd. youtube.com/user/kristianlw 

'The Charade' (complete with an American flag attached to D'Angelo's black biker jacket) was even more spellbinding and rousing live than on wax.  Likewise, 'Ain't That Easy', with it's Funkadelic swagger, was yet another highlight in a powerhouse of a performance filled with highlights.

'The Charade' (complete with an American flag attached to D'Angelo's black biker jacket) was even more spellbinding and rousing live than on wax. 
 
With band members including Chris 'Daddy' Dave (Adele, BeyoncĂ©, the Robert Glasper Trio/Experiment) Pino Palladino (The Who, The Soultronics) Jesse Johnson (The Time) and Kendra Foster (Parliament/Funkadelic), The Vanguard's combined years of stage experience meant that the crowd was treated to a live show that combined raw funk and super polished professionalism that at times brought to mind James Brown's The J.B.'s. 

'(Untitled) How Does It Feel' was the perfect end to a perfect night. youtube.com/user/kristianlw   

Indeed, 'D's showmanship on the night gave more than a nod to 'The Hardest Working Man in Show Business'. He peppered his strutting across the stage and warmly shaking of many a fan's hand with nimble and energetic dance moves. He flirted and teased the crowd just the right amount, such as when he walked away from the mic as the audience sung 'girl, it's only you...'. Of course, he returned a few moments later to make good on his promise, with a fifteen minute take on '(Untitled) How Does It Feel', which had the audience in further raptures.

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Rob Papen Punch-BD Review: 'Inspiration Soundware' Gives Dance Music's most Vital Element Extra Special Attention

Punch-BD Offers Amazing Sounds Straight out of the Box, with all the Processing Potential that you Could ever Want

Ask any producer, musician or beatmaker what the fundamental element is to any form of dance music, be it house, hip hop, EDM, or anything else, and they are very likely to say the kick drum, also known as the bass drum.

As the name suggestions, Rob Papen's latest piece of 'Inspirational Soundware' packs a punch, both in presets and in sound design capabilities. robpapen.com.
Not only is this more often than not the 'drive' behind your beat, sitting in the low end of the frequency range, it's essential that the kick works with your bassline.

It's not an easy task.

Enter Rob Papen, creator of  'Inspiration Soundware' to help you out, with Punch-BD.

From the good folks over at robpapen.com:

'Based around the BD module of the multi award winning Punch virtual drum synth, Rob Papen delivers a creative module to help you to produce the fattest sounding bass drums for your music.

Stacking bass drums is a popular technique used by today's music producers and Punch-BD gives you the ability to stack up to 6 in total. Divide the 6 BD pads over the keyboard or use them 'stacked' in tuned mode to produce creative new BD sounds for all styles of contemporary music.

Punch-BD delivers synthesized drums in the finest audio quality or you can choose to load in your own samples for complete flexibility. Each pad has its own distortion module with several distortion types as well as its own 3 band graphic EQ. What's more, each individual pad also has its own preset section next to the overall 'BD kit'.

Like its big brother, Punch-BD features four FX units each with many 31 types of top quality FX plus further filters, envelopes, modulation routings and more for crafting your own unique sound.

From Electronic Dance and Hip Hop to Soundtrack projects, Punch-BD provides a solid speaker-busting sound for your productions.'

The New Beatmaker has been happily playing with Punch-BD for a few months now, and I really couldn't agree more!

For those of you of the 'Too Long, Didn't Read' persuasion, I'll give you the conclusion up-front ;)

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired by the sounds, just as they come, for a very long time; and as they become a more experienced knob-twiddler, Punch-BD offers such an amazing number of effects and controls that they will be able to tweak - or downright mangle - to their heart's content for a very long time thereafter.

Punch-BD has so many fantastic sounding presets, that anyone new to beatmaking will be overjoyed and inspired ...and as they become more experienced...they will be able to tweak to their heart's content for a very long time...

And what sounds they are, too.

There are too many types to mention in full, but here are just a few that have caught my ear: big, dramatic timpanis and distorted and mangled kicks; 808 style bass drum notes; hard kick drums of the more techno persuasion; tuneful congas; and all sorts of gnarly, angry, distorted beasts which will come in handy if you delight in the more abrasive styles of anything from EDM to Nine Inch Nails style industrial electronic rock.  Creating music for video games? Check out my example of what Punch-BD can do for you, below.

Layering drums to get a bigger, more dramatic, sound is a time honoured tradition, but it's one that is easily gotten wrong, with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out, ironically creating an weaker sound.


Rob Papen himself gets hands on in this must-watch tutorial: youtube.com/user/robpapen

With Punch-BD, the user is able to load up to six different drum pads at the same time.  Now, bearing in mind just how much trouble the new beatmaker can get themselves in to by just blindly throwing sounds together willy-nilly, Punch-BD comes with a huge amount of multi-layered pad combinations, meaning that the newbie can enjoy making tracks with impressive drums right from the onset and, as there knowledge and confidence in drum grows, they can then begin to design and layer their own sounds.

The same can be said for Punch-BD's generous to say the least processing capabilities.  19 - you read that right - types of distortion - EQ, filters, reverbs and the like for days, two LFO's and more, mean that the more capable sound design minded musician is not likely to get bored in a hurry!

All these dials and sliders however are sure to intimidate a new beatmaker, so mercifully the GUI has an 'Easy' page which shows far less of those scary dials and knobs.  Helpfully, the root note of the drum / layered drums is shown on this 'Easy' page, making it even easier for the new beatmaker to ensure their drums are in key with the rest of their instruments.  One thing that would have made this page even better though, would have been the inclusion of the search, or rather 'find' option, which is actually located at the bottom of the manager screen along with a host of other commands.


A videogame/action movie style soundtrack idea from yours truly, ALL drum and percussion sounds, including that 'whooshing sound', are from Punch-BD.  Choir is BigTick Angelina free VST, talking keys are Smartelectronix ASynth free VST.  

Another 'quick win' provided by Punch-BD is how quickly you can put together a bassline using the tuned stack function and a suitable bass drum, this technique is often used on tracks of a dirty South / trap style.  A bassline comprised of a 808 style bass drum notes is far more likely to sit nicely with similar sounds from Punch BD and would therefore alleviate the frustration of drums and basslines not gelling which, like drum layering, can often happen with frequencies clashing or cancelling each other out (or missing altogether).  Elsewhere, a 'sequence' / 'tuned sequence' function plays up to four drum pads one after the other, which could prove to be a nice way of quickly building up a simple idea quickly or if you're otherwise suffering from beatmaker's block.

With more features than it's possible to detail here, Punch-BD is a piece of software that will provide both instant gratification and is likely to become ever more useful and inspirational in time.  At a very reasonable $59 at the time of press, Punch-BD is bound to be a big hit.

Conclusion:
Pros:
Superb preset sounds.
Seemingly endless process and control possibilities.
Cons:
May intimidate new beatmakers to begin with.
EQ window a little small.
Total Rating: 4.5/5
This product is very much recommended by The New Beatmaker.
Buy at: robpapen.com/Punch-BD.html 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Today's Future Sound Equipment Stolen: Please Donate and Spread the Word! The Charity Needs Our Help Today!

So, friends of the site Today's Future Sound (TFS) had equipment stolen from them recently. 

This, from the TFS Facebook page:

Someone stole from a charity that helps children.
'So this just happened during TFS staff meeting---not only did they smash Phillipdrummond aka Philthydrummond aka Pd's window, they stole the bag with 12 pairs of headphones, splitters wires, etc. that we use to teach the youth of Oakland every day. This is the second theft in recent months. Please consider donating closed ear headphones, buying TFS merch (hoodies, tshirts,) making donations or coming to our beat battle fundraiser (also Pd's 34th bday jam) on Saturday feb 21st. Please spread the word.

Buy clothing here: Http://todaysfuturesound.bigcartel.com/

Donate thru PayPal donate@todaysfuturesound.org or go to site and use PayPal button there: Http://todaysfuturesound.org/

You can also donate thru bandcamp and pay whatever price you want for the free beattapes, and buy clothes there. Http://todaysfuturesound.bandcamp.com/'

To paraphrase, TFS is a charity that believes in the power of music to transform and inspire youth to create positive change in their lives and communities.

TFS not only introduces young children to beatmaking as an art form, but also as a vehicle to communicate maths and science in a way that is novel and, I dare say, more engaging and entertaining to many of the children than textbooks and chalk boards are.


In addition, TFS uses rapping to promote positivity and to encourage children to recognise their own self-worth.

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Saturday, 7 February 2015

'Soundcloud Sessions': J Dilla Special, with Music from M-Phazes, Tall Black Guy, Mecca:83 and many more


Turn it up!

To commemorate what would have been his 41st birthday, here's a collection of some of the best J Dilla reworkings and homages, plus a few of his own classics for good measure.

Also, check out this special guest post that I had the honour of writing for bboytechreport:

Read 'J Dilla's Magnum Opus Continues to Inspire' here



Without giving too much of the post away here, my feature focuses on the following topics.
  • The context of 'Donuts'.
  • How J Dilla, a revolutionary producer in his own right, pays tribute to fellow iconic and innovative producers on 'Donuts' - the producers being Pete Rock, Rza, and The Bomb Squad.
  • J Dilla's mastery of the vocal snippet throughout 'Donuts' - how these snippets either explicity convey an emotion, or subtly add another, often haunting, layer to the track.
  • The paradox inherent in an audience consuming art from an artist exploring their imminent demise.
To check out the full article, click here.
For all guest posts, click here.
For all J Dilla posts, click here.
Happy born day to Nujabes too.  RIP.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

2014 Roundup Part Five: M-Phazes Talks Favourite Hardware, Software, Sample Packs and Music of 2014

The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce the final part of a five-part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.  Catch up on the previous installments here.

 
M-Phazes boasts a CV that includes Eminem, Sean Price, Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae and Kimbra.

His brand of 'melodic knock' makes him one of the most unique and sought-after producers in the game.  By combining classy instrumentation with big-but-tasteful drums and an uncanny ability to create and mix sounds with a perfect balance of polish and grit, he is able to craft tracks that satisfy hip hop die-hards, future RnB fans and the more adventurous corners of the mainstream.  

It's a great honour and pleasure to present M-Phazes' favourite hardware, software, music and highlights of 2014. 

To round up the feature, The New Beatmaker then reveals favourite sample packs and artists of 2014 and the most anticipated projects of 2015. 

M-Phazes (Production and Remixing Titan, Drum Sample Library Powerhouse)

Favourite hardware of 2014: 'Probably my Juno 106. Obviously it's not from 2014 but every year I use it more and more! It's a beast!'

 Classic Roland synths the Juno 106 and the Juno 60 put through their paces by SynthMania: youtube.com/user/SynthManiaDotCom

Favourite software of 2014: 'Cubase, iZotope and FabFilter definitely took the crown in 2014! Love everything about all of them.'

Favourite sample pack of 2014: 'Probably the Kingsway Music Libraries by the bro Frank Dukes!  There are some super inspiring sounds going on there: kingswaymusiclibrary.com. Cardiak put out some fire as well: cardiakflatline.com'

Favourite freeware of 2014: 'It has to be TAL-Chorus-LX. kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-chorus-lx.  It’s a very simple plugin that emulates the chorus of the old Roland Juno synths.  It’s just nice to throw it on plugin synths to give them an old school analog vibe, but it’s great on guitars and even vocals.'

Favourite song of 2014: 'D’Angelo - 'Ain’t That Easy'.  It’s amazing from start to finish.  It oozes 70’s funk but is still timeless, D’s voice is as good as ever and it’s such a good opening track to his new album.'


An instant classic, 'Black Messiah' by D'Angelo and The Vanguard is M-Phazes' album of the year.  The album's funk-filled opener, 'Ain't That Easy', is M-Phazes' favourite track of 2014.

Favourite album of 2014: 'D'Angelo - 'Black Messiah'.  This album was possibly my most anticipated ever!  I know I’m far from the only one who thought that too.  The great thing is it lives up to those expectations and goes well beyond them. Musically it’s a masterpiece, and as a producer it’s so refreshing to hear an album not covered in harsh digital shrillness.'

...as a producer it’s so refreshing to hear an album not covered in harsh digital shrillness.

Favourite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: 'Illangelo.  He did a lot, if not all of the ‘Weeknd’s’ production.  The guy is just ridiculously creative, amazing drum programming and crazy left of centre production - definitely an inspiration!  And he uses Cubase, bonus points! soundcloud.com/illangelo.'

Favourite app, blog or website of 2014: 'Music Radar is my go to but I also hit up Pensados Place.'

Highlight of 2014: 'I’m going to have to say my Grammy nomination for Eminem’s MMLP2 – that was a pretty huge deal.  I’ve also done a fair bit of traveling over the past 12 months; mostly for work.  Japan, USA and Indonesia to name a few.  It’s been great to make music in other parts of the world.'

Music based New Year resolution of 2014: 'I really want to learn piano and guitar, I am kinda lazy with that stuff though.  Hopefully 2015 will be the year that I can make it happen.'

Thank you very much to M-Phazes for taking the time out to answer my questions and all the best for 2015.  If you're not doing so already, be sure to follow him on soundcloud and cop his drum kits from The Drum Broker today:

soundcloud.com/m-phazes.
Buy M-Phazes' 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries.
  
Oh and speaking of Soundcloud... 

 
'Soundcloud Sessions' Special: The New Beatmaker Selects 14 of M-Phazes' Hottest Tracks

It was M-Phazes' skill of blending musical genres and qualities that made ‘U & ME & Everyone, We Know’ one of The New Beatmaker's 'Top 12 Tracks of 2012'.

His roller-coaster ride of a remix of Kimbra's '90's Music' is one of my 'Top 14 Tracks of 2014'.

M-Phazes further channeled his inner Teddy Riley and DeVante Swing for two other massive remakes in 2014: his astounding reworkings of Jane Child's 'Don't Wanna Fall in Love' and Tammy Lucas' 'Is It Good to You', both of which took pride of place on 'Soundcloud Sessions' shortly after release.

These anthems, and other classic flips and productions from the man himself are neatly put together above for your listening pleasure.

For more 'Soundcloud Sessions' click here.
Follow The New Beatmaker on Soundcloud here.

The New Beatmaker Favourite Sample Pack and Artists of 2014 and Most Anticipated Projects of 2015

Favourite Sample Packs of 2014

As if Billboard Awards, Aria Awards, Grammy nominations and a portfolio of work with the cream of both underground legends and household names isn't enough, M-Phazes' drum sample packs are some of the best in the business.  If you haven't done so already, you owe it to yourself to cop them here today.  His 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries are The New Beatmaker's favourite drum sample packs of 2014.


Do your beats a big favour: get yourself M-Phazes' 'The Vault' and 'Dirty 30' drum libraries today.

The New Beatmaker Favourite Artists of 2014

D'Angelo: To paraphrase M-Phazes, I have never anticipated an album as much as I did 'Black Messiah'.  Truth be told, I would have been happy with a good, nay, a decent album.  Given how many issues the artist has allegedly had to work through, the demons he has allegedly had to conquer, I was just happy that D'Angelo was in a good enough place to even release an album.  The fact that it's the best album of the year on it's own merits makes D'Angelo's return and victory all that much sweeter.  Welcome back D, we missed you.   

Flying Lotus: 'You're Dead' would have been The New Beatmaker's album of the year pretty much any other year.  From the awe-inspiring intro 'Theme', to the hope and wonder of closer 'The Protest', this concept album weaved together survivalist determination ('Never Catch Me'), mysterious, haunting mysticism ('Coronus, The Terminator') morbid social satire ('Dead Man's Tetris', 'The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep') and, like 'Black Messiah' showed that the art of the long-player is far from dead.  


Extra points go to FlyLo for his enthralling live show, which I was lucky enough to catch at The Roundhouse, London.  An amazingly immersive audio / visual treat which left much of the crowd dumbstruck in awe, this was the live show of the year, and another reason to crown Mr Lotus as one of the best artists of 2014.


Flying Lotus: I freaking saw this! Live! Epilipsey Warning: Readers with epilepsy should avoid this video.

M-Phazes: Last but certainly not least, there was more than one reason I reached out to M-Phazes to be a part of this final roundup post.  From this year's 'Camden Arc' brilliance; to the shelf-life of tracks like the stunning 'U & ME...' and 'Somebody I Used to Know' remix; and the amount of times I have reached for his drum samples, I feel like my enjoyment of music as a fan first and a creator second have both been very enriched thanks to M-Phazes this year.
 
Most Eagerly Anticipated Projects of 2015

If you haven't guessed already, M-Phazes 'Camden Arc' - along with heralded releases from those other perennial The New Beatmaker favourites Evil Alex and J'Von and Ackryte - is The New Beatmaker's most eagerly anticipated record of 2015.


Many thanks once again to M-Phazes, $1 Bin, Sev Seveer, Evil Alex, walkingshoe, T-Funk, Carvalho, Phil Phlaymz, Khalid Golding and J. Rizzle for taking part.  Same time next year? ;)

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

2014 Roundup Part Four: $1 Bin Talks Favourite Freeware, Sample Packs and Producers of 2014


The New Beatmaker is very proud to announce part four of a five part special feature, breaking down the highs and lows of what proved to be another eventful year in music and music production, with some of our favourite writers and artists of the year.

Part Four: Friend of the Site $1 Bin Talks Freeware, Sample Packs and Artists of 2014, The New Beatmaker Shares Freeware Favourites of the Year.

$1 Bin's sublime D'n'B tinged remix of The Soundmen / Aven Lava's 'Bermuda' (featured here) was an instant favourite of The New Beatmaker.  It was love at first listen and it's subsequently become one of my favourite remixes of 2014.  Bravo.

$1 Bin's 'Drum Ensemble Vol.1' is an absolute treat.  At the time of release I had this to say:

'This kit...which mixes fun and function...would be well worth checking out even with a price tag.'
 
With such a strong remix under his belt, and a drum kit that was one of my favourite freeware releases and sample packs of 2014, it was only right that we ask the rising star about his favourite freeware, sample packs, and artists of the year.
 
Favorite Freeware of 2014: '1. Luftikus by lkjb 2. IVGI by Klanghelm 3. Saturation Knob by Softube.

I came across the Saturation Knob about 2 weeks ago. I’ve used it on every track that I’ve made since then. It really comes in handy when you’re trying to get that “gritty” sound into something. Try putting it on your master channel. Thank me later.'


Saturation Knob: one of $1 Bin's favourite freewares of 2014.  Many thanks for the heads up! youtube.com/user/SoftubeStudios

Favorite sample pack of 2014: '1. !llmind BLAP KIT Volume 5 2. Urban Fire Vol.7 3. $1 Bin Drum Ensemble Vol.1

I’d like to say that my drum kit is the best (lol) but that would be me being bias. To be honest I’ve used a lot of sounds from the BLAP KIT last year in my music. The kit is just so relevant to what I grew up with and what I’m trying to do musically now. Illmind is killing the drum game with his kits. I’m a fan.'

'I’ve used a lot of sounds from the BLAP KIT last year in my music. 

The kit is just so relevant to what I grew up with and what I’m trying to do musically now. Illmind is killing the drum game with his kits. I’m a fan.' - $1 Bin
 
!llmind BLAP KIT Volume 5 is available from The Drum Broker here.

Favorite musician, producer or beatmaker of 2014: '1. Sonny Digital 2. DJ Lil’ Man 3. $1 Bin



Sonny Digital has produced 3 songs this year that have given me that “GOT DAMN WHO IN THE WORLD MADE THIS TRACK!” Feeling. “Future – Covered In Money” “Que – Fuck Around” & “Rae Sremmurd – Up Like Trump”. Anytime a producer can give me those feelings multiple times in one year not only do I become a genuine fan, it also inspires me to step my sound up.

DJ Lil’ Man is doing a lot for New Jersey. I really like how he conducts the parties in Newark. His presence is felt amongst the youth. The music he makes goes hand and hand with it, whether it’s a remix or an original dance track. Everything stays right in its own lane. I respect that a lot.

I had to put myself last because I can’t wait for the world to hear these beats that I’ve been making for my album. Prepare yourselves. Enough said.'



Enough said.  I'm eager to hear the new material and try out all the freeware that $1 Bin recommended above.  In the meantime, here are my top three freeware favourites of 2014.

The New Beatmaker Freeware Favourites of 2014

$1 Bin's  'Drum Ensemble Vol.1': This is an absolute gem of a free drum sample pack.  I'm quite partial to it, if you hadn't already noticed! 


Voxengo's range of freeware: There is absolutely NO NEED TO ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD CRACKED SOFTWARE when you are able to get, guilt-free, freeware like that offered by Voxengo.

From a multitude of spectrum analyzers all with particular specialties and uses, through to their handy track-to-WAV recorder, capturing your track in real time, perfect for capturing those magical 'one-off' moments when jamming which are hard - if not impossible - to recreate; through to all manners of reverb plug-ins,Voxengo has you covered.

Computer Music Magazine: Not quite freeware, but included every month on this must-have magazine are all sorts of instruments and applications from some of the biggest and best names in music production.  There's a tonne of royalty-free samples included every month, too. 

Cockos REAPER: Again, not quite freeware, but this DAW is an absolute powerhouse and beyond a bargain, with a personal use license of $60 at time of press, and a free uncrippled evaluation license. Use it for free to start with, then buy the license when - not if - you fall in love with it.

Many thanks to $1 Bin for getting involved.  He had a great 2014 and here's to hoping he has an even better 2015:

https://soundcloud.com/dollarbin.

Catch up with parts one to three here.

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