Wave Alchemy – Paper Skins
Quality shines in this unique snare library that hits with the best of them.
Steve Heath and Dan Byers have taken the road less travelled in the development of their fine sample label, eschewing the more-is-more ethos that has come to dominate a certain sector of the sample industry and focussing instead on a handful of high quality releases a year.
Those releases have predominantly focused on two things: effects and drum hits, and in Paper Skins, the boys (alongside sound designer Boris Sass) turn their considerable talents to the snare drum.
Perennially overlooked in sample purveyors’ offerings, the snare is all too often an afterthought to the sexier, more marketable kick drum library. Which means there’s a niche. Into which WA serve up this library of 634 24-bit snare samples.
First up, this isn’t any old snare library. It’s ‘paper’ snares. Which sounds like a recipe for a very short drum session until you realise that the paper doesn’t relate to either the skin or the snare body, but – apparently – the sound of the samples.
The marketing text goes some way to explaining the slightly odd choice of title: the samples are passed through an Akai S1000 which imparts a “unique sounding paper sizzle”. Hence the ‘Paper’.
Terminological waywardness continues in the naming of the folders, with one titled ‘slappers’, the second ‘fluffers’ and the third ‘suckers’. I’m not sure whether the innuendo is intentional or not. Either way, they sound great.
Each of the three folders contains 211 one-shot Wav samples – the same 211 raw sounds in each incidentally, albeit treated in different ways.
So the ‘slappers’ focus on the front end of the snare – more transient sounds with flighty attacks – the ‘slap’ if you will.
The Fluffers folder, meanwhile, is all about the middle of the sound – longer samples, ones with body and girth.
The samples veer from the essential to the esoteric, from the conventional to the leftfield, but all are beautifully recorded and processed – and all with a flair for creative processing.
The occasional (very short) room reverb aside, the samples are offered gloriously dry, allowing producers to make their own decisions on further ambience / compression. Which is the way it should be.
Although the market for this pack should be wide – it will find fans among all kinds of electronic (and non electronic) music producers – it is particularly useful for those seeking snare drums with a live or organic feel (if you want drum machine samples, look elsewhere). Here lies the pack’s soul: the authenticity of the real.
Taken alone there are enough interesting sounds here to last even the greediest producer months. But it’s when you start layering that things get interesting. Try putting a fluffer with a slapper. Or mounting a slapper with a sucker or… you get the idea.
Even better: take a solid DMX snare and layer it with one of these for a new knocking, smacking snare with a crunchy live edge. Mmm…
Indeed, I think the boys may have undersold themselves with the ‘paper’ title: it’s much more than that. Yeah, there’s the papery sizzle, but there’s also warm, rounded jazzy-snares; slurpy mid-rangers, battered old ringers and much more.
My only reservation is the sucker folder – the same 211 sounds reversed. Although I can see the reason behind offering them (time-saving for the rushed producer!), it felt like filler – a bulk reverse in an audio editor would have done (almost) the same job in seconds.
Minor gripe aside, it doesn’t detract from this overall high quality library that is unique, fairly priced and highly useable.