Review: Vince Watson: A Journey Into House Sample Pack

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For their latest release, Sample Magic have recruited veteran producer Vince Watson to put together a sample pack of soulful and emotive house. The release is the latest in the ‘Sample Magic Presents…’ series and Watson has put together a nicely distinctive set of samples here.

A common failure of sample packs is that they are overly generic. In recruiting artists to produce packs in their own style this pitfall can be avoided, and these samples do have bags of character. If you are a fan of the sort of chordal, melodic house that Watson produces (“beautiful” music, as he has called it), then this pack is well worth a look. If you favour a harder or more stripped back sound, there is probably less for you here.

Watson is an interesting character in that he classes himself as a “musician first, DJ second” and that he sets great store in his ability as a keyboard player. To him, the fact that he can actually play a musical instrument helps to give his productions soul. Whether you agree with this ethos or not, the depth of his musicality is apparent in these samples; there are some incredibly pretty arpeggios and chord patterns contained within this pack.

This being a Sample Magic pack, all of the samples are recorded and mixed to the kind of standard we have come to expect. They are all clear and punchy and will slot into a mix very easily.  Overall there is a distinctly retro feel to the pack. This is something that we should probably expect from a Vince Watson sample set, and indeed, Watson gives nods to several key figures from the history of house music in the names of his samples; Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard and Kraftwerk all get a name check.

Included in the pack there are 36 bass loops, 64 synth loops, 32 piano and Rhodes loops, 39 strings and pads loops and 25 atmospheric loops. There are 24 drum patterns provided, and as is usual in Sample Magic packs, you get the full beat, plus various broken down variants; percussion only, snare and kick only etc. Overall this means that 120 drum loops are provided. The drum and bass loops are all very solid with some nods to early Chicago house being particularly warm and evocative. The pack really comes into its own with the more melodic samples however. This is Watson’s strength, and what separates this pack from countless others on the market. Some of the lush house pads are huge, and many of the piano and Rhodes samples tap into the uplifting, almost gospel sound of early house.

Despite the inclusion of midi data as well as samples, this pack does suffer slightly from a lack of flexibility. One key disappointment is that there are no individual drum samples available – you only get pre-programmed loops. Despite this, the pack could prove very useful to many and in a crowded market the distinctiveness of the melodic loops really does help this pack to stand out from the crowd.

You can buy this pack from the Sample Magic website for £19.90 as a whole pack. You can also purchase the various subfolders within the pack individually.