By John Pellegrini
Velocity is the newest library from FirstCom, the megamonsters of production music. If I were to attempt to review every library FirstCom has to offer in the coming issues of RAP, I still wouldn’t be done by the July issue of 2002. Can you say variety? Yet, with all that music being offered, no two libraries sound alike. There are loads of styles for just about every format available. Velocity is a strong addition, which takes advantage of the newest music styles for stations that demand a cutting-edge sound. Offering an initial package of 10 CDs with 10 more throughout the year, this package is definitely a strong commitment on FirstCom’s part. Velocity is being offered primarily for Rock, CHR, AC, and Urban stations, although you could make a strong case for newstalk and sports stations being interested in these discs. When you order the package you get both 10 audio CDs and ten CD-ROM versions of the discs. However, unlike some libraries where the CD-ROM is a mirror of the audio CD, the Velocity library has different tracks on the CD-ROMs. More on that later.
Each of the 10 audio CDs contains 10 full mix cuts each over 2 minutes in length. Then, you get a full-length rhythm mixout (called “Narr.”) and 60, 30, 10, and “sting” versions of each track. Full mix cuts, however, doesn’t do these tracks justice. I should probably call them songs because that’s really what Velocity is offering. The first disc, VL-001, “ALTROCK” says it best in its liner description: “… just add lyrics and you’ve got yourself a hit record.” They’re not kidding, several of the tracks on ALTROCK make me think that they could have turned up on the latest Sheryl Crowe or Polly Jean Harvey offering, and you’ll find yourself thinking of other bands as you demo the rest. For that matter, just about every track on all ten discs will strike you that way, especially if you have any tendency toward being lyrical. Not that you have to use these cuts for songwriting, obviously production music is the intended purpose and you’ll find uses for all of them. All of the discs deliver just as promised, NUSKOOL FUNK has loads of attitude (and a nice Fender Rhodes piano sound on the cuts) POP PACKAGE has an energy Latin-pop feel to it.
One of the better points to mention is that each track on each CD comes with some of the most creative descriptions I’ve read from a music library in a long time. For example, on the aforementioned POP PACKAGE CD, track number 7 which is titled, “Fake ID” has the following description: “15-year olds rejoice. In ten years, you’ll wonder what you were thinking. Enjoy it while you can.” The truth is, I could produce a promo with those very words over the intro part of this track. Another example, from DRAMA-TRONICA, track 6 “Secrets” says, “Can we topple this empire? Can we mastermind our captor’s self-destruction?” Even the overall descriptions of each CD’s category are quite creative. For example, Global Grooves, which is a Worldbeat disc, says, “Globally influenced electronica with vocal snippets, exotic instruments, and bizarre animal rituals (okay, 2 of those 3).” Now there’s a description that’s far more visual than just “Worldbeat,” and it gets your idea generator pumping. This has to be the first time I’ve seen a production library offering copy-brainstorming ideas for our benefit. I’d like to encourage more libraries to add this concept.
The METAL/RAPCORE disc sounds like it was recorded by Metalica’s evil twins with assistance from Death-Tongue. Other discs include ELECTRONICA (Euro-dance); SURF (from the liner notes: “… is an explanation necessary?”); TRIP-HOP (gritty hiphop feel); and GROOVEMETAL (which is described as “extreme sports”… nasty). All of these discs will have you wishing only one thing… that FirstCom gets the remaining discs out pronto because these initial 10 will get used up quickly.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, the CD-ROMS have different tracks than the audio CDs. They all start with the same full mix track, but the CD-ROMS contain a different mixout rhythm track as well as solo instrument tracks, all of which can be blended with the audio CD mixes for greater effect or for different arrangements. FirstCom recommends using these tracks for surround-sound mixing as well, which can literally add an extra dimension to your production.
FirstCom has an excellent Web site, www.firstcom.com that can give you more information on everything that they have in their libraries. You can even audition some sample tracks and order libraries or discs for custom libraries. They also have an 800 number for those still not hooked into the Internet. 800-858-8880.