ModeAudio has a talent for avoiding the slavish mainstream soundware paradigm. If you are looking for out-of-the-box Beatport Top 100 sounds, then I encourage you to check out ModeAudio, not because they provide these shrink-wrapped sounds, on the contrary, because they provide unique sounds that encourage you to shape and manipulate them. Such is the case with their latest offering Lost Archive.
Upon first listen to ModeAudio's Lost Archive, it is easy to miss the subtlety and nuances that make these samples a useful tool and a steal at the price. Listening to the loops only gives a keyhole view of the breadth and depth of possibilities with these sounds. The true magic is in the sounds themselves and the additional extras that are provided. From the single-shot sounds, to the reverb tails, to the MIDI clips (oh, the MIDI clips!) you are given a wealth of creative fodder that will keep you busy crafting late into the night. Having done this myself, I will take you on a survey of the vast potential that is ModeAudio's Lost Archive.
When it comes to pre-made loops, I avoid using them as-is in my productions, but they do provide an endless source of material for experimentation and exploration in sound design. Again I stress if you are looking for instant loops, please reconsider your art. Not to start a diatribe here, but as an artist you should be pushing, not mimicking, creative boundaries. With these two points in mind, I give my recommendations for the Lost Archive loops.
The drum loops themselves the kick, snare, hat loops provide a modest starting point that only introduces the listener to the overall sounds. Their particular rhythm and vibe may not be anything you are interested in don't let this fool you! By themselves, the loops are best used as a creative starting point for some experimentation. The deep tub of the kicks and the body of the snares are perfect for extreme time expansion or compression. The glitch style artifacts present in the sounds respond well to distortion or delay-based effects (chorus, flanger, phaser). The particular genre of the loops only indicate a potential source of inspiration on the part of ModeAudio, but they do not dictate the only possibilities.
The guitar loops are one of the gems of this sound library, due to their beautiful soundscape quality and their organic feel of authentic performance. Use them as-is if you like, but I prefer to get in there and start chopping and manipulating; resample the notes and create new performances. Process some of the more percussive guitar loops to create textures and backdrops against which you can layer a dense web of brooding fragmented synth work. Loop one of these in your DAW, close your eyes, and feel the tingly sensation of inspiration climb over you.
The bass loops are comprised of both bass guitar and classic synth loops. Expect to find deep raw bass sounds that are begging for further manipulation. Throw some distortion and modulated filters on the electric bass sounds and feel the warm pounding in your chest. Chop and loop small segments and you are on your way to disco, techno, or anywhere in between. The synth bass loops have all the character you would expect from a deep analog-style synth patch. These loops have a bit more ambiance behind them, so they may not respond predictably to distortion, but anything that limits only forces creative solutions.
The synth pad loops are another gem in Lost Archive; upon listening, magical analog beauty washes over you. These loops encompass all that is the inspiration behind this entire sound pack. Everything you could ever want in a pad can be found here: stereo width, deep modulated tuning, lush beating, expansive frequency range. Truly, on my first listen I just melted at their beauty.
SFX & Ambiences
Here we get a range of fillers for transitional phrases, adding impact, and flavor. What is nice about them is how well they fit in with the sound of the overall pack. Nothing here is going to give you a religious experience (like the synth pads gave me), but nothing here is dull or useless: just that extra spice you'll need.
One Shot Samples
I need to make a point of clarification here: the Lost Archive loops are excellent, useful, ready-to-go loops. You can probably infer that I don't use loops in a conventional way, but I don't want to seem as if I am disparaging these loops in any way. That being said, my passion for my particular style of producing is about to shine through as I discuss the remainder of the Lost Archive collection.
The kicks have great bottom energy and a nice array of glitch style top end; think circuit bent drum machines. I would describe them more as tubby than boxy, with some approaching a near square-wave quality. No kick is boring and they all have some special sonic quality that lets them be used as-is or totally processed to add character to a dull kick drum.
Claps & Snares
Jackpot! Some of these snares are just amazing: deep thunk with awesome snare mid-body. The character and flavor in these snares allows them to be used in a wide range of genres. Use them as-is for some serious dance-floor vibe, pitch them up for a tighter controlled sound, or pitch them down for a deep sonic journey into the unknown. The claps are equally rife with glitch character, seemingly derived from a bent drum machine. Use them to slap the listener across the face, pitch them up for more control, or down to enter a deep vast sonic landscape of brooding destiny.
Hats, Shakers & Percussion
Keeping with the theme, these samples are reminiscent of drum machines and bent drum machines. Good variety here to make a range of percussion grooves that could fit into a retro vibe, a techno jam, or sprinkled into any loop for added flavor. I am especially fond of the shaker hits as they exude a creamy quality that just sits well in the mix.
This is where I draw the line. Up to here (in my review) everything totals a great value for your money: include the next three collections and I think ModeAudio is giving away their shirts!
These synth stabs offer a vast potential for creative output. All you need to do is to map them into your preferred sampler, tweak to taste, and play some chords. Most of these stabs come from the patches that make up the various loops. By including these in the pack, ModeAudio has just given you a license for endless creation. Everything that needs to be said about their quality is under the pad loops section, but I can sum it up here: priceless.
Synth Tail Samples
This category could easily be overlooked. At its most obvious, you can use these to add the tail onto your synth stabs or onto the loops when you need a natural fade-out. Or, you could process and treat them like any other sample and use them as a unique source of inspiration. Load them in a sampler for some great pad-like patches with interesting internal rhythms (as many of them have decaying delays). Use them as sound effects for pitched transition effects or impacts that perfectly match your song. While some may see these as just an added bonus, or even a useless extra, I see them as a unique opportunity to experiment with sound design and craft something truly original.
On top of all this great content, ModeAudio has thrown in the MIDI clips that make up most of the loops in the pack. What?! This is why I needed to clarify about my position on the loops themselves. I would pay the price for this pack just to have the single samples and these MIDI loops. Take a look inside them and you will see the subtle nuances of an actual performance. No point and click MIDI loops here. No predictable DAW applied swing. What you get is authentic, organic performances of chords and lead lines. The potential behind these MIDI loops is enormous: easily time stretch, groove extract, groove apply, changes notes, add chords. Endless possibilities surround these MIDI clips.
Awesome circuit bent drum machine samples, beautiful synth pads (which easily load into a sampler), and a great collection of MIDI clips makes Lost Archive by ModeAudio a steal at the price. Plenty of loops will get you started and, when you are ready to make your own, there is a wealth of material.
If you like deep analog synths, drum machines with character, and endless possibilities then you will enjoy Lost Archive through the night and into the early morning as you stare bleary eyed at your monitor pumping out original jams.
Quality - 10/10
Versatility - 9/10
Overall Score - 9.5/10