France has never really been a country instantly associated with the production of great sampled sound sources, preferring to concentrate on the other things that they make so well, such as wines, cheeses and nuclear fallout in the South Pacific [steady on, old boy -- Assistant Ed]. Univers-Sons are a company based in Paris hoping to buck this trend, and to this end, they have produced a mixed-mode two-CD release interestingly titled Basicussions -- The Ultimate Percussion Tools. CD one is given over entirely to conventional audio tracks of numerous percussion loops including shakers, tambourines, triangles, congas, bongos and jembes. The loops are presented in a number of different musical styles, such as funk, fusion, latino, and swing, and are recorded at three main tempo settings, 89, 100 and 119bpm (although there are a couple at 133.5bpm). Within each tempo set, there are usually between three and seven different percussive variations on a theme, and these are designed to slot effortlessly together, allowing the user to construct their own percussion tracks with relative ease.

On the whole, this release has an easy-going and largely creative feel to it. The layout is logical and the recorded quality of the samples is just as good as we have come to expect. The strongest part of the release is almost certainly the mixed percussion loops at the start of the discs, but the conga and bongo loops are also highly authentic and very, very funky. Where other releases bombard us with every conceivable odd drum and shaker extracted from the rainforests of South America, this release gives us a sensible collection of well played and recorded percussion loops using just a few favourite and well chosen instruments. If you want a strong latin funk feel and you like your sounds edited and ready to go, with a free audio CD to audition them with, you could do a lot worse than put Basicussions very high up on your wish list. Paul Farrer

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This product was released on 21 May 2009. Please check compatibility with your hardware and O/S.

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