Category Archives: Review

Review: Kick Start By Nicky romero

Here’s an interesting piece of plug-in from the guys at Cable Guy called Nicky Romero “Kick Start”. As for Nicky Romero, this plug-in is the second one to bare his name. His first plug-in “KICK” was a simple plug-in that does what the name implied really well. You want slamming house kick? Use Nicky Romero’s KICK and your problem is solved. It’s that easy.

Now on his 2nd plug-in is another simple and specialized plug-in that emulate sidechain compression. Sidechain compression is essential in today’s EDM to get that pumping sound and you can’t live without it. On certain DAW such as Logic Pro and Ableton Live, the process of setting up sidechain compression is pretty straight forward. But Even if the the setup process is easy, you still need to have basic knowledge on how to use compressor to achieve the desired effect. “Kick Start” completely bypass that process. All you need is to put “Kick Start” as insert and you chose the curve of the effect and decide how much pump you want by adjusting the wet/dry button. Yes, it’s that simple. It’s crazy how simple and effective this plug-in work. Purist will hate it and consider this cheating. Then again, purist hates anything that is not traditional. As for me, anything that will speed up my production process will become part of my studio arsenal.

Nicky Romero Kickstart is out now for PC/MAC, 32/64-bit, VST/AU for $15/€10
get them at http://www.kickstart-plugin.com/

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Best of 2013: Albums

Everyone is doing their own top 10 album of the year and to be honest most of them are pretty similar. Instead of doing the same thing, I’m gonna do my own top 10 of album that I personally really enjoy this year. I’m gonna overlook genres since this is my personal chart and I personally love any music. So, without further a do, here are my top 10.

Continue reading Best of 2013: Albums

Review: Hybrid Minds – Mountains

Over the last 2 years, Hybrid Minds (aka Josh White & Matt Lowe) have quickly established a following for their own cinematic, musical and uplifting brand of d&b. With tracks like Lost, Fade, Meant To Be and I’m Through clocking up in-excess of 2 million views between them, the demand for an album has been evident. Spearhead boss, Steve BCee, quickly caught on to this and, since signing them to his Spearhead Records imprint in 2012, has had them locked away honing their sound and crafting their finest work to-date.

Mountains features guest appearances from Ad-Apt, Charlie P, Philippa Hanna, Rocky Nti, BCee, Grimm, Holly Drummond, Mike Romeo, Laurence Baker, Linguistics, Tempza, Jasmine Spence and Mimi Page who each bring an extra little piece of magic. As tracks Trauma and Forest showcase, this is an album packed full of real music and some of the finest song-writing you will hear at 174 bpm. For those that like things a little slower now and again, Josh & Matt relax the tempo and take us deep with tracks like Broken and Ascent.

Hybrid Minds’ Mountains is out now on Spearhead Records and available at all major digital stores.

Review: The Prodigy – The Added Fat EP

At one point, The Prodigy was one of the biggest band in the planet. During the first wave of electronic music invasion in America in the late 90’s they made history by becoming the first electronic artist to debut their album ‘Fat OF The Land‘ at number 1 in US Billboard’s Album Chart. Huge hits such as ‘Smack My Bitch Up‘, ‘Breathe‘ and ‘Firestarter‘ made them a household name and it’s suddenly cool to listen to electronic music in America, all thanks to The Prodigy. 15 years after the release of ‘Fat Of The Land‘, they release a new remix EP titled ‘The Added Fat‘ in an attempt to modernize the three hits I mentioned above and reintroduced The Prodigy to the current generation of clubber/raver/music fan.

For ‘The Added Fat‘ they recruited the service of current hottest electronic artists such as Noisia, Alvin Risk, Zeds Dead, The Glitch Mob and Major Lazer. Remix album is never an easy thing to pull off though, especially when songs that are considered classics. As a remixer, you will always be facing dilemma on much of the original materials you want to keep. Keeping too much of the original and you’ll appear lazy while keeping too little might ruined the already classic tunes. I definitely didn’t envy those guys. They got tough assignment.

The results of the remixes are somewhat mix bags, where some remixes totally enhance and modernized the tunes while some are really cutting close to ruining it. The Dutch Dubsteb/drum & bass trio Noisia is up first with their take on ‘Smack My Bitch up‘. I’m glad these guys managed to turn this into a slamming dubstep tune without ruining the original. They kept the entire iconic intro intact and just smack you in the face with their signature growling bassline when it drops. Up next is Alvin Risk whose take on ‘Firestarter‘ is to take it into the drumstep/drum & bass territory. I’m a drum & bass guy so I might be a little bias about this remix. Despite completely mangling the original, I find that Alvin Risk take still maintain raw energy of the original. Samples of the original is sprinkled sparingly throughout the remix yet its very effective. Zedz Dead take is when things starts going downhill. His take on ‘Breathe‘ is somewhat lacking. Despite heavy use of original elements, the track simply lacks raw energy and ferocity that is associated with the original. Next in line is a a Trap remix from Baauer of ‘Mindfields‘. The original is one of the more hip-hop sounding tune in ‘Fat Of The Land‘, therefore I was not surprise with how well this remix has turned out. Up next is another remix of ‘Breathe‘ from The Glitch Mob. This remix started well, keeping the original intro while introducing new drum pattern. Despite its 4/4 pattern it works surprisingly well, until the main drop where it turns into a really boring tune. Its a shame because it started out so well. Last but not least we have Major Lazer with another take on ‘Smack My Bitch Up‘. Major Lazer kept the entire iconic intro untouched then drop it into an all out trap version that is just as raw and dirty as the original, taking it into completely different direction at the same time.

As always the case with remix album or EP, they always have some hits and misses. Major Lazer and Noisia did awesome job while Alvin Risk and Bauuer did pretty good (not as good as Noisia and Major Lazer) job. Meanwhile, Zeds Dead and The Glitch Mob were totally off the mark. These 2 guys shows that 4/4 electro style doesn’t work with The Prodigy’s material. Should you get this? If you’re a prodigy fan then there’s no doubt it. Otherwise you can skip some of the tunes and just buy the one that you like.

‘The Added Fat EP’ is due out on Dec 3rd. The Noisia, Major Lazer & Zeds Dead remix are available exclusively now at Beatport.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review: PHOTEK – KU:PALM

For those who don’t know, Photek is one of the pioneer of Bass music. He made his name back in the days with releases in drum & bass legendary label Metalheadz. After over 15 years of career, Photek has evolutionized his sound from the bass heavy tune of his Metalheadz day to his current sound today. One thing remains consistent though. He still creates that same moody atmosphere in his music.

KU:PALM is Photek’s first original material album in the past 12 years since his last critically acclaimed album ‘Solaris’. In ‘Solaris’ he started to dabble in music styles other than drum & bass and in KU:PALM, his shift is complete. There are still elements of drum & bass that is reminiscent of his trade mark sound in track such as ‘Shape Charge” where he uses an almost metallic percussive bass sound which is layered together with moody synths and occasional drum & bass style drum edits. This is definitely a trade mark sound similar to his classic tune such as ‘Ni Ten Ichi Ryi’. In ‘Munich’ he pays homage to the minimalist German techno sound yet, he never tried to carbon copy them. The atmosphere of this tune is definitely more fitting in a movie score as opposed to the dance floor.

In ‘Quevedo’ he slowed down the beat considerably. The beat is still in the 4/4 teritory but the bass line will make this tune fit into any chill step set. Once again it’s apparent that Photek loves to create moods and atmosphere in this tune. ‘Mistral’ is an acid laced beat that combines the classic Roland 303 and 808 snare, bringing that total old skool vibe in a very modern yet not trendy production. ‘Oshun’ is one of the more uptempo tune in this album. It never tried to fit into any specific genre and its definitely not a club banger.

Now we moved on to the more radio friendly tunes. ‘Sleep Walking’ featuring vocal from Linche is more radio friendly tune here (and that is by a stretch) by keeping the tune at the standard dubstep tempo and features excellent vocal without going into the brostep territory. The album is closed with an all out dubstep tune ‘This Love’ featuring Ray La Montagne. This track is probably the least interesting tune in the whole album but I do understand that it’s a necessary to have this tune included.

Overall, PHOTEK’s KU:PALM is one of the best album he ever released. His impeccable music taste has enabled him to create a masterpiece. KU:PALM will go down in history as one of electronic music classic. It’s great to have him back in the game.

KU:PALM is out now and available at iTunes

Rating: 5/5

Review: Propellerhead’s Figure

The first time I heard about this little iOS software called Figure I got very excited. First off, it only cost 99c making this a total bargain and encourage us to try it out. The apps it self is pretty simple. It comes with 3 instruments which consist of Drum which is powered by Reason’s Kong Drum Designer, Bass & Lead which is powered by Reason’s Thor. Once you launch it, you’ll see 4 pads that you use to control the drum and when going through the tabs you can change the mode from pattern, tweaks, song & mix. There are also several sound banks to get you started.

Overall is pretty neat but just like every iOS apps out there, It has yet to able to be taken seriously as a music making tools. It lacks the ability to export sound or MIDI note therefore making this more of a toy than the real deal. Nonetheless, its pretty fun and its a good glimpse to the future of what the iOS ecosystem can do plus it’s only 99c.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Rusko – Songs

The man that start it all! Not dubstep but brostep. Yes, Rusko the man responsible for dubstep subgenre brostep is back with his sophomore album Songs. It’s nice that he’s actually distancing his self from the monster he created as Songs shows more variety and multiple facets to his production.

The first single from Songs is Somebody To Love, a track that pay heavy tribute to the hey day of rave with its melodic piano riffs and diva vocal before dropping into some wobbly bassline. Pressure is another outstanding tune with its major chords creating happy vibe and something that brings back the UK Garage era in the early noughties. In Opium he goes with epic trance like intro a la Magnetic man then proceed to bring back his trademark bass and switched it up to 4-4 goodness in the middle. Thunder is a surprise since its basically a straight up 4-4 big room number with epic chords build-up similar to Swedish House Mafia with an added twist. Instead of your standard 4-4 beats where the snare falls in 2nd and 4th beat, he opted with half time where the snare lands in 3rd and 7th beat. Reggae/dub influence are also present in the form of Mek More Green, Skanker, Love No More and Roll Da Beats. Asda Car Park represent the one and only tune that somewhat resembles brostep. M357 a droning down tempo track close out the album.

Overall, Songs is a solid album with excellent mixes of styles and sounds. It’s much more well rounded album when compared to his debut effort O.M.G. It also showcases Rusko’s progression as producer and reminded us why he is one of the premier dubstep artist today. I think it’s great that this album is being released in Diplo’s label Mad Decent which is an American label because it will show the American public out there that dubstep is not just Skrillex

Rating: 4.5/5


Rusko – Somebody To Love