The 909 does not need (or want) an introduction...But it's going to get one anyway! From Madonna's "Vogue" to Inner City's "Good Life," it is the OG pillar of house, techno and modern pop. It changed the landscape of electronic music permanently after its introduction in 1985 and has been sampled more than any other electronic musical instrument (OK, it may be tied with the 808).
But really, the 909 is just an all-around personal favorite at Samples From Mars and this is definitely not our first collaboration with the it. So why create another 909 product? Because there's a certain magic that happens when you start programming the internal step sequencer, turning the knobs, and embracing the limitations of the 909's accents, flams, and shuffle - a realness much harder to achieve with DAW sequencing.
With this in mind, we set out to create a diverse collection of hardware 909 loops, running the results through some serious outboard gear and creative processing along the way. Our goal was to provide an immediate source of authentic 909 grooves to inject into your productions without having to reach for your DAW's sequencer. So let us introduce with great pride: 909 Loops From Mars.
The major benefit of recording loops is the fact that every analog drum hit has a slightly different shape and vibe to it - a human quality that one-shots (even round robins) can't touch. When you sample the machine directly from the source and add your own flavor to it (tastefully, of course!) via preamps, compression, saturation, etc, the unique sonic qualities that emerge from the sounds become even more evident now that you're recording 4 seconds worth of a kick, instead of a fraction of a second. Grabbing a 4 beat loop of 909 kicks and layering that with a snare roll can sound quite convincing immediately.
But in addition to the sonic benefits, the on-board step sequencing of the 909 - both its limitations and intricacies - is just as inspiring. Whether you're grooving between the flam and shuffle settings or choking the closed and open hi hats, the 909's programming features are somehow more limited yet more immediate and inspiring than newer drum machine (just ask Jeff Mills...It's been 25 years and he's still not bored with it).
So with this in mind, we recorded hundreds of loops ranging from clean, unadulterated transients (most people don't realize an unprocessed 909 kick has a HUGE spike) to trashy, squared-waved 909 trash. We set out to do all the stuff that ITB sequencers struggle with - analog pitch modulating snare rolls by hand, shuffling tom flams, and more.
Opting for a variety of both straight and shuffled rhythms, we recorded everything from simple and dry to complex patterns with over-the-top outboard processing. We focused on capturing different types of loops that would be applicable at different stages of your production process. The more stripped-down loops and patterns are great for inserting into pre-existing productions, while the more effected and unique loops are a great starting point or background energy. In the same way, the individual drum loops provide a much greater level of flexibility and detail, while the whole beats and tops can get you started a lot quicker. All of this is to say there should be something for everybody in here.
A great thing about recording loops is that time-based hardware FX will have more of an impact than when sampling one shots, since you're literally dealing with longer audio length, which means there's more oppurtunity to hear the results of time-based FX modulation.
So we ran beats through an old 'n funky spring reverb, compressed it, and then sent it to the mercurial ADR Compex compressor, gate, expander, / overall mystery machine. We wound up with a similar signal chain to "When the Levee Breaks" but with 909 sequences. TLDR; the 909 and John Bonham used to have nothing in common, so we decided to change that.
We also ran the 909 through a huge modular, Lexicon PCM42, and a keep-it-cheap "90s station", using many of the same techniques that groups like Daft Punk and Model 500 made standard in their early productions, driving the 909 into (original) 1642 Mackie pres and through classic Ibanez and Lexicon single rack effects units.
These loops can have a lot of different uses depending what you're after. You can easily utilize them as your main drum sounds for quick and authentic 909 drums, or you can layer them in the background of your pre-existing DAW sequences, kind of like a rock drummer's "room mic".
There is definitely some type of magic that happens when you start layering and editing audio loops against DAW-sequenced one hits. Especially with compression and FX, you can create a dynamic energy in between the notes (kind of like the air picked up by mics in between acoustic drum hits) that is impossible to achieve solely with one hits. The purpose of this library is to provide you with that energy.