It's more than just a sound, rather, it's a feeling you get. Hiss and crackle reflect off the walls and fill you with a sense of security. Deep bass drums expand and contract the air around your head. Arpeggiated guitar chords echoing in the distance and dancing in circles across your mind. Funky key stabs invoke visions of Stevie, Lonnie, and Ray.
Yet, this sound, this feeling, is like early hip hop and MPCs, it feels gritty and makes you move in unusual ways. You look at the clock, it's 3 AM, your eyes are tired and dry, but your ears are basking in soft, wonderful vibes. It's not the latest chart hit you're listening to, it's your latest track and you made it all with the help of ModeAudio's latest pack: String Theory.
String Theory by ModeAudio is a 619 MB sample collection that is imbued with the soul of hip hop: think pre-1990s, MPCs on fire, wax sampled until it's smooth, and enough swing to give you whiplash. As we dig deeper into this sound library, what we find is a varied collection of loops and one shots that were designed to give you a solid foundation for building your tracks. What you make with these sounds is up to you, of course, but for the most part we are in hip hop leaning territory. Listen to the drum loops and you will hear gangsta/punk lead lines in your head. Listen to the keys and guitar loops and soulful R&B will flood your imagination causing you to seek out the closest female vocalist in your area. Whatever you do, don't stop grooving, don't stop swaying, but do stop making plans because String Theory by ModeAudio is going to fill your calendar.
Bass & Electric Guitar Loops
The bass guitar loops for String Theory are low frequency, monster riffs that will inspire you in many different ways. During my first listen, I could hear so many possibilities for each loop; not a single bass riff in this collection is mired in one possibility. They don't strike me as specifically soulful or funky, but they harken back to the early days of hip hop when the form wasn't pigeonholed. Many of these loops demand your attention and encourage you to think outside the mentality of current hip hop trends. Early hip hop was about breaking the rules, pushing boundaries, abusing technology and culture. These riffs and loops do just that and open the door to your imagination. In terms of manipulation, they respond great to time stretching, compression, and pitch shifting. The variety of available formats (WAV, REX2, Apple Loops, Reason ReFill, Ableton pack) allows for immense flexibility. Personally, I was using Maschine and had no problem changing the tempo and pitch and mixing and matching the loops. Many of these loops tend to be pretty heavy and approach overdriven distortion, so while there may not be room for adding more distortion, there is definitely room for dynamic processing, filtering, and the like.
The guitar loops contain riffs, arpeggiated chords and strummed chords, all in a similar vein of not trying too hard to be fit a particular music style. They allow your creativity to flow in varied directions: soulful, R&B, atmospheric hip hop. The pack has two variations in the Electric Guitar collection: Dry and Processed. This is important, as some users may prefer to use the effects they love on the guitar loops, while others may be more interested in hearing how ModeAudio envisioned their loops. Whatever method you prefer, ModeAudio gives you the flexibility.
Synth & Key Loops
Here we are treated to a collection of soulful, natural sounding chords, riffs, and lines. Some of the Rhodes chord loops will certainly stop your browsing and demand a second listen. There are some very beautiful and emotional loops inside this folder. The sounds vary from simple subtractive synthesis to dense beating pads and even piano riffs. Again, this harkens back to those early days of hip hop when things were raw and up-front. This particular section has the most diversity in terms of style. Some of the loops could take you in an electro direction, and no, I don't mean electro house, I'm talking Planet Rock. It is interesting to think how the direction of a track could be influenced by which loop you use first. Many of the loops in the Synth & Key section could easily have you braving new musical frontiers, or at least exploring sounds that have been relegated classic in recent years.
SFX & Percussion
These are actually two different collections, but I will cover them both here because they fall under the icing on the cake category. The various vinyl sound effects can help add some vintage air to you loops and be used as the subject of extreme sonic manipulation. The percussion loops are extra layers that can be added to your drum loops for more flavor and rhythm. As an aside (ModeAudio listen up!) a couple of these percussion loops, which sound like found sounds with wonky rhythms, are so awesome that they (ModeAudio) should make an entire collection like them. Think of these as the tarragon of your String Theory spice rack.
Sorry to bury the lead but I truly saved the best for last. This collection of 35 loops and fills are some of the greatest, crunchy, retro, straight-from-wax sounding loops I have heard in awhile. Upon first listening, I was floored by the sheer old school quality of these loops. Normally I am obsessed with crafting and sequencing my drums, but I could not resist slapping these as-is inside Maschine and jamming out some funky, raw grooves. Notably, these loops responded well to time expansion and compression with no audible artefacts. These loops, more than any other inside String Theory, truly invoke early hip hop vibes. These loops alone will keep you coming back to this pack again and again.
String Theory by ModeAudio is a fantastic collection of samples and loops emulating those very early years of hip hop. In terms of production you get expertly crafted loops and samples that will respond to whatever sonic torture you devise. In terms of flexibility, we are in hip hop territory, but within that you are not pegged to one micro-genre or pigeonholed sound. As with all ModeAudio products, they are nudging you to break form and avoid replication. Grab your copy of String Theory, clear your schedule, and let the world listen to your innermost artist.
Overall Score: 90% (Brilliant)