Wednesday 26 October 2011
We've just finished putting together a set of classic digital synth samples for a forthcoming issue of Future Music magazine concentrating on a couple of synths from the (in)famous Yamaha DX range - a Dx7 (Mk2D) and it's smaller cousin a DX100.
Oddly enough this was the first time we'd really used either of these synths and although we knew broadly what to expect sound and programming -wise, we still found them quite an unusual experience to geet our heads around compared to the feature-rich soft-synths or knob-heavy analogues we usually use.
Out of the two we actually preferred the smaller Dx100, which although under-powered and armed with rather horrible mini keys has a charm of it's own and still retains that very distinctive DX/FM feel and sound.
Of course you can find some samples taken from both synths at our soundcloud page here and a more extensive set will be available on the DVD of Future Music issue 247.
Tuesday 27 September 2011
360 Systems Midi Bass Samples by groovecriminals
Friday 9 September 2011
A quick glance over this blog will show that we're lucky enough to be sat on quite a horde of hardware drum machines, both vintage and modern, including a few hip hop classics including the Oberheim DX and DMX. Both of these machines are punchy beasts and capture those early Run-DMC style beats perfectly.
As well as the drum machines we also used lots of live drum breaks recorded especially for this project. We're great believers in simple being best so often we used a basic 3 or 4 mic set up (kick, snare, and overheads) and then either chopped the loops up and fed them into the 12 bit samplers or just took single drum hits from different breaks just as if we were digging from records. We also dug through years of DAT tapes of our own recordings, demos, and sample sessions treating them like a sample source (which of course they are). It's a handy exercise and it's amazing what audio gems turns up in long forgotten projects or sketchy ideas.
Of course we also used the hardware sampling sequencers (MPC2000
/EMU SP1200) for putting beats together in a traditional hip hop manner but we also used a drummer playing electronic kit triggering gritty samples and the more modern DAW drum grid as well as Geist itself.
One sequencing/sampling trick that many overlook when aiming for that elusive 'MPC swing' is that lots of movement in oldschool beats was as much down to badly cut samples as it was to any swing settings. The older sampling machines didn't have the visual tools to cut the start points of drum samples quickly and easily and we suspect most users couldn't be bothered. This meant that often drum samples had milliseconds of noise, crackle or silence left on their beginning or end which affected how fast they sounded when triggered in a sequence which can lead to their own form of 'swing'. It's one of those little tricks we've been using for years ;)
Yes we know, another couple of months radio silence.
We have an excuse. No really.
Amongst the usual monthly sample goodness we cook up for our friends at Future Music and Computer Music magazines (look out for FM issue 245's set of 'Juke' samples, we had some fun with those), we also have been working on a classic hip hop expansion pack for the Geist sampling drum software from our mates at FXpansion.
This is the project we hinted at in this very blog back in June and rather chuffed we were to be asked to put it together. With most of us being of a certain 'vintage' to be around when the first few hip hop releases hit these shores from over the pond, it's hard now to express the excitement that this fledgling musical genre brought with it. From scouring the record shops (remember them?) of East Anglia for the latest 12" imports, standing radio aerial in hand in the only place in the house to pick up the faint beats of the capital rap show (no DAB back then) to being the only B-Boy in the village. The Hip Hop of the 80's and 90's not only changed the face of popular music worldwide but changed our lives as well.
These early years of hip hop not only gave us our first introduction to samples, funk, soul, breakbeats and digging for loops (a love affair that's still on going) but also our first faltering steps into beat making and production. Without its influence we wouldn't have made our first beats, saved for our first hardware sampler, made our first demos, released our first tracks (instrumental and vocal hip hop) and enjoyed our various short and brilliantly unsuccessful recording careers.
Sure, our musical remit has changed somewhat today and we'll not get drawn into a glory days vs modern hip hop slanging match and of course "it's not where you're from it's where you're at" that counts but it's nice to go back and relive it sometimes....The heads might be older but the hearts still got excited and those shell toes never go out of style, well as far as we're concerned anyway ;)
Friday 24 June 2011
Monday 20 June 2011
More info as and when we can let it slip but we're quite chuffed, a touch challenged and a bit nervous about the whole thing to be honest . All of which is good ;)
Til next time.
Quick update on the what gwan/self promotion front. Please don't adjust your set...
Just finished a set of analogue bass samples for DMS taken from the synth collection here at GCHQ.
The list of beauties we grappled with in the name of low end bliss appears, er, below.
Moog Little Phatty (Tribute)
Jomox MBase 01
Novation bass station
FAT freebass FB383
Dave Smith Mopho
Just to add some extra warmth we also ran a good chunk of them to tape (reel to reel 4 track).
We've posted a small taster selection for you to download and play with on our soundcloud page here. The full pack contains 80 bass WAV samples (16bit/44.1 sampled at C) plus Kontakt patches and Soundfont data. All for the price of a couple of pints - bargin if we do say so ourselves ;) You can take a look at the pack in more detail here.
Analogue Bass taster by groovecriminals
Tuesday 14 June 2011
First up we were please to get our filthy wobble on (ohh err) for our friends at Sample Magic to contribute some samples for their rather splendid Dubstep sample library. We've worked with Sample magic several times in the past on their sample releases and we really pulled the dirty synths out of the bag for this one as well as sorting out some beats and FX. You can check it out here.
Next up a slightly older project but I don't think we actually blogged about it so bare with us. We were as pleased as punch when we were asked by our good mates at FXpansion to put together some content for their Geist drum machine/virtual MPC/software rhythm marvel. As well as lots of drum hits we also sorted some loops and other bits and bobs and were incredibly chuffed to be included. Geist got across the board good reviews (as far as we saw and we love it so there ;) and is a very powerful beat making tool. Check it in more detail here.
Lastly we thought we'd drop a small plug in for ourselves as we do get asked every now and then if we have any samples available for purchase. We've a few packs of drum hits perfect for making those heavy beats with over at www.dancemidisamples.com as well as a pack of analogue FX, great for adding some vintage spice. Each pack is under a fiver for these recession hit times. You can check 'em here.
That is all
OK, no excuses (although we have been very busy ;) but rather time for a speedy catch up on all things Groove Criminal.
GCHQ v2 is completely up and running now and after a few months we've settled in nicely and it's really being to feel like home. To be honest it's a home away from (well within MR Hoodee's) home as it is because we spend so much time there, but it's good to have some where permanent with such a great vibe about it. Needless to say we could do with a bit more room as we seem to have filled what seemed like a huge space with loads of audio tat but we'd have done that with a warehouse!
Work-wise we've been pretty busy as well with some interesting projects (see next post - hopefully ;p) but we also had a bit of a crash and burn moment thanks to pulling a few too many hours over a prolonged few months so had to have a couple of weeks away from the studio. Not complaining though, as it's not as if we have to dig coal for living or anything (no heavy lifting, just heavy beats, is one of our mission statements ;) just pushed a little too hard for a bit too long, as you do.
On the gear-porn side we finally got introduced to the shadowy, man of mystery (he's not like that at all really :) that fixes/cares for the vintage gear of a mate of ours. This basically allowed us to finally get some stuff fixed including getting the 4 or so keys replaced on our Yamaha CS5 mono synth.
One of the first true analogue synths we got hold of, she had a gappy smile when we got her, but it's nice to see her finally in one piece. With the LP/BP/HP switch fixed as well! No more random filter choice for us then.
Although not exactly a must have on most peoples wish lists, we've a soft spot for the CS5, it's got a character of its own and the bonus of an audio input to run stuff through the filters and we don't use it anywhere near as much as we should.
There's some free samples of the little love to download and use on our Soundcloud page
Yamaha CS5 by groovecriminals
Monday 7 February 2011
Saturday 5 February 2011
Happy new year! Okay a little bit...okay...a lot late but we still hope 2011 is finding you fit and well. Big things gwan here over Xmas as finally the beat lair, GCHQ v2.0 was finished and we moved the quite frankly frightening amount of audio tat we had stored in and got comfy in what we hope will now be our permanent home.
As you can see in he end we still had to pack it in a little bit but it's great to have so much natural light to work in for the first time and more space (although it might not look like it ;). It was a long time coming but well worth it.
Of course the space issue wasn't helped by the new arrival of the Hammond '69 L-101 organ, noisy and chocked full of valves it's rather fab.
We also grabbed a Kodak Zi8 HD small video recorder to try and spur us into doing some more video blogs, yeah we know don't hold your breath ;) It's a nifty little camera tho, only downside is its native mov format that's not the easiest thing to edit on a PC, yes we don't all use macs ;P
Anyway that's all for now hopefully post again very soon.