A sterling offering of prog and main room MIDI files gets the thumbs up from our in-house sound assessor.
The perennial problem with sample packs is their inflexibility: you love a sequence but the third chord doesn’t fit the track you’re working on; the Wav bassline ticks 90 per cent of the sequential boxes but you want to reprogram the last bar; and probably most often, you like a chord sequence but not its sound. What, then, to do?
The answer is comprehensively answered in Hy2rogen’s MIDI Tracks, a fairly unique offering in the sample landscape offering a format that has previously only been the domain of more specialist labels like the excellent Smash Up The Studio, 5PIN MEDIA and to a lesser extent Soundorder.
In his first outing into exclusively Midi territory Hy2rogen doesn’t hold back. In all you get 202 different progressions, including 82 basslines, 30 ‘pads’ and 150 chords and leads. Each Midi sequence is accompanied by an mp3 to indicate the kind of sound you might expect from the Midi data.
(It might have been nice, incidentally, for Hy2rogen to have exploited his sound design talents in the choice of sounds used in these demo mp3s. He chooses the same generic bass and synth sounds – and a tiringly vanilla piano sound – when he could have showcased a few different sounds to inspire the pack’s users.)
The kind of progressions are fairly self-explanatory, the ‘leads’ folder offering everything from solo toplines through staccato chords to arps and huge, layered chord runs of the Swedish variety. The ‘pads’ folder fulfils mainroom and prog expectations, with mighty stacked backings aplenty. (This folder would also appeal to trance producers, by the way – just up the bpms by 10 per cent and you’re good to go.)
Sound-wise, we’re comfortably in the kind of tech and mainroom territory that Hy2rogen does best and using the files really is as easy as dropping the relevant Midi file onto a track and then firing up your favourite synth with the freedom to tweak synth parameters on the fly and/or alter the original Midi file to taste.
Overall, Hy2rogen’s MIDI Tracks offers a hefty – and cheap – bundle of raw programming tools for tech and prog producers. The programming at times feels slightly pedestrian (some of the basslines feature just one note, for example), but this is more a reflection of the genre and is no doubt deliberate (don’t expect too many minor 9ths!).
It also serves as a useful practical introduction to the kind of music theory at work in these genres, which may be of additional interest to those starting out.
But it’s the novelty factor that sets this pack apart. Sample producers have been surprisingly slow to add Midi packs to their repertoire. In Midi Tracks Hy2rogen does this solidly and for a very good price.
Expect to see other companies following suit quickly.