Dusk begins to descend and darkness chases away the last hints of light. You turn your head from side to side, straining to hear the sounds around you. Kick drums thunder in the distance: deep basses, tight clicks, tubby envelopes. You try your best to concentrate and analyze the noise. You hear the claps and the snares blasting: tight ones, loose ones. Some sound natural, others are total 8-bit destruction. Hi-hats are zapping above your head, like machine gun fire rattling off metallic tones and timbres. This is sonic warfare.
You reach down for your weapon while your mind races. Which kick do I use? How many hats do I have? What kind of percussion do I need? Suddenly, you feel a cooling wave of relief as your hand grips your weapon – no, your arsenal. You brought your Swiss Army knife of sample packs: Drum Tools 02 by Wave Alchemy.
Wave Alchemy describes their latest offering as “a labour of love”, and listening to the huge array of samples included in the library, one can definitely feel the love. Every single detail has been thoroughly addressed and explored. Looking at the immense list of drum machines and other hardware that was used, the details in the editing and labeling, the careful use of analog tape, there is no room for error here. What we get from Dan Byers, along with Matt Urmenyi and J. Rowland, is a project of true dedication to that elusive magic of drum machines. They managed to capture the idiosyncratic nature of dozens of drum machines and channel this “machine soul” into a highly sculpted and organized collection of 3,557 drum hits (actually, 4,025 after the latest update – more info below) that could be the backbone of any producer’s signature sound in any music style.
There is no genre of electronic music, past or present, that could not be built upon a foundation set by Drum Tools 02. The team who worked on this library didn’t try to capture a niche sound and give you a dedicated tool box. DT02 gives you a huge variety of sounds in each of the following categories: bass drums, claps, snares, toms, hi-hats, crashes, cymbals, electronic and acoustic percussion, and (my favorite) glitch and abstract. This alone nets you 2,029 samples, then throw in the 1,528 tape processed samples and you could fill a room with the samples and swim around in them.
Wave Alchemy is also giving away a taster pack that you can download for free and decide for yourself if you want to purchase the full library or not. If you are looking to add some variety to your sample arsenal, build your sample library from scratch, or delete all of your samples and start fresh, you should strongly consider Drum Tools 02 by Wave Alchemy. The price may be a bit more than you are used to spending on samples, but that adage “you get what you pay for” is completely accurate here. For £49.95 you get two years of blood, sweat, and tears and a lifetime of drum samples. Sounds like a steal to me.
There is hidden character inside these samples that can express itself to different listeners in different ways. This is that “machine soul” that lurks inside the samples, waiting to be gently coaxed into being. Every sample is a work of art and a deep listening will yield fine details etched into these sculptures. This is even more important with the tape processed samples as the effect can be subtle at times but contribute immensely. The samples can be used with both minimal processing and excessive sonic manipulation. This speaks to a masterful job of production when the samples can be used as-is or ripped to shreds with effects.
Let’s take a closer look at the Drum Tools 02 library as a whole, as well as some of my favorite samples from the pack.
Bass drums are a fundamental component of an electronic music track. Sometimes one sample is all it takes to get the perfect sound and at other times it might be as many as four. Whatever your method is, you will find ample fodder for your fiendish sound design experiments in DT02. From subs to mid punch, boxy to bone rattling, standard to bizarre, you will certainly find a kick to suit your needs.
Glitch & Abstract
Without a doubt, this is my favorite collection included with DT02. There is a range of textures, rhythms, and unique timbres that can be used to add aural treats to your productions. Marbles, Skitter, and Springgranule are three of my favorite sounds in the pack. Samples like these are an excellent way to add a unique flavor to your music. They are also a good inspiration to grab a mic and record the world around you in search for organic one shots and unique percussive noises.
Vinyl & Tape
2,000 high quality unique samples would be more than enough for Wave Alchemy to offer us, but then they added 1,000 tape variations of the samples, and then they decided to throw in 468 vinyl variations as well. As if there wasn’t enough character in these samples to begin with, these bonus sounds add subtle nuances of added texture, pleasant amounts of warmth and depth, traces of ambiance, and countless amounts of barely perceivable sonic variations. Listen carefully to these samples, as sometimes the effect is quite subtle, but it may be just the flavor you are looking for.
I have barely scratched the surface of Drum Tools 02. Considering the fact that the Wave Alchemy team has spent two years on this project, it almost feels unfair that I have invested only a fraction of the time on my review. Luckily, these sounds speak for themselves and hardly need me to sing their praise.
Drum Tools 02 by Wave Alchemy is a Swiss Army knife of machine driven samples. The diversity of the included samples alone is quite staggering. Add high precision sample editing and immaculate organization of the library to the mix and you get a very wise investment. Listen to the samples, build some grooves with them and you will find the magic, a “machine’s soul” lurking inside these samples that will spark a passion in you. You will find that these drum samples are individual works of art.
More info: Drum Tools 02 (official product page)
Wave Alchemy Drum Tools 02 Review
Drum Tools 02 by Wave Alchemy is a Swiss Army knife of machine driven samples. The diversity of the included samples alone is quite staggering. Add high precision sample editing and immaculate organization of the library to the mix and you get a very wise investment.