September 2010 - Attention all serious
DUB producers: dive into the vaults of Neil
Perch (Zion Train, Abassi All-Stars, etc
etc) and get some massive material which
will not just spice up your own productions
but will lead you into the deeper realms of
Dub for true.
A review in word and sound!
It's almost like DUB was created for the
technologies that would arise in the decades
after the music was born in the late 1960's,
early 70's: Zion Train's DUB Selection is
another very fine example of that. For just
over 50 Euros, you're being provided with
powerful drums, real bass, real keys, real
vocals and: real horns!
The package, about five gigabytes large,
basically comes in two parts: REX and WAV.
Even though the wave files contain some most
interesting material, a look at the Rex
section provides you with a quick-start,
especially for owners of Reason and such
Which is exactly what we'll do at the
start of this review.
Some browsing through the Rex files
within Reason comes up with some -more or
less- matching loops incredibly quick. After
about 25 minutes, yours truly collected a
couple of drum loops, a bass line from a
bass guitar, some keys and a matching
A little bit of Dub mixing followed, with
a truly simple set-up containing just two
echo's, one reverb (in initial mode) and the
filters on the Dr. Rex loop player. A very
interesting experience as the sound of Neil
Perch's studio blended with the effects,
definitely creating vibes already.
The result? A four-minute Dub that sounds
ZION TRAIN DUB
SELECTION 1: ENTERING THE VAULT
Admitted: there was a little bit of
cheating involved. At the start of the Dub,
you can hear an introduction which did not
come with the Rex files, but rather was the
result of a sneak preview at the wave files,
which can also be opened in Reason and
triggered with the drum computer.
These wave files contain, next to the
same material which can be found in the Rex
section, some very interesting stuff.
Included in this is an impressive selection
of vocal recordings, some of which have a
rather melodic approach.
In the second tune created for this
review, two of these vocal samples are
included. That is, on top of a piano and
organ from the Dubroom library and a couple
of matching loops which were grabbed rather
quickly. Again, just to see what can be done
just a short while after you have the discs
or downloads available for use.
ZION TRAIN DUB
SELECTION 2: WATCH HOW YOU'RE DUBBING
An advantage of the fact that most loops
come in the Rex format, lies within the
possibility of these files to play in
another tempo than the loops were originally
recorded. This enables the owner of the Zion
Train Dub Selections to dive deeper and
combine loops from various tempo's in order
to create something completely new.
Add some horns, some keys, a clavinet, a
bassline and drums. Restructure some of
these loops, like the bass, and make a
riddim that has a vibe. On top of that, take
8 bars of toasting from the vocal samples,
then cut and paste them in the right place
of the rhythm.
Such a thing opens up deeper
possibilities of the package, especially for
those producers among us who are willing to
spend a little bit more time before the
dubbing can start.
Here's how such a riddim sounds like,
again with the use of only two echo's, a
basic reverb and the filters on the various
devices themselves. The vocals fit in just
fine, et voila:
ZION TRAIN DUB
SELECTION 3: IN TUNE WITH THE ZION TRAIN
Finally, a fourth tune, done with some
quick grabbing of chords, a horn lick, a
bassline, drums and some vocals:
ZION TRAIN DUB
SELECTION 4: PICK IT UP IN DUB
Admitted, there was some final mastering
done outside of Reason, but that wasn't much
more than a limiter and subsequent
normalizing. It should be said, though.
More important: the setups used in Reason
for these three dubs were kept to the most
simple level, in order to show the basic
power of the loops. Basic power, which can
and should be seen as self-evident for
everyone remotely involved in the production
of computer and loop based DUB music.
Where the Rex format is designed for the
software which can deal with it (Propellerhead
Reason for example, a crucial tool for the
computer based Dub producer), Wave Files are
much more open in nature.
They require editing, subsequent
sequencing and possibly more editing. They
will keep you busy for many hours before
you're able to produce something within your
sequencer or multi-track recorder. But then,
you're really able to deal with the depth
provided by Neil Perch in this excellent
So, let's leave the Rex files for a while
and focus on that biggest part of the sample
and loop collection: the wave files. They're
all formatted in high quality 24 bit, and
can be divided into two different sections:
loops and samples.
A look at the samples, first.
VOCAL WAVE FILES
What stands out is the enormous amount of
vocal hooks and licks, jingles if you will,
some of which we already heard in the first
three audio examples that come with this
review. Some of these jingles can also be
found on two podcasts from Radio Dubroom
2010 (see further in this review).
Zion Train works a lot with vocalists
Brother Culture and Dubdadda, both of which
contributed to the vocal files, 50 in total.
They vary from "short shouts"
("now man", "ease up",
etc) to more melodic and long parts, which
you might have to cut and paste a little
bit, just like was done in the third DUB
On top of that, a lot of vocal parts
can be used for radio shows as much as your
own Dub productions. Just like the multitude
of sound effects you can find as well, by
FX WAVE FILES
The effects are divided into three
categories: "Lush FX",
"Atmospheres" and "analogue
Noises". The three of them each come
with their own puropse and idea, alltogether
the possibilities of use are rather endless.
The Lush FX are definitely the most
versatile. They come from an analogue
synthesizer and contain many beeps, sweeps
and siren-style sounds. When properly put
into echo, they will definitely spice up
just about any Dub tune.
In two different podcasts of Radio
Dubroom 2010, you can listen to some jingles
and Lush FX, so that you can listen for
RADIO DUBROOM 2010
CHAPTER 17: THE WARRIORS ARE COMING
RADIO DUBROOM 2010
CHAPTER 20: RUFF AND TUFF
The Atmospheres are more designed for Dub
productions, even though there's a lot you
can put in podcasts as well. Predominantly,
they can be described as short audio-movie
clips: a lot of nature sounds, for example.
Indeed: field recordings.
Synthesizer atmospheres are there too:
they will serve just fine as intro, outro or
intermezzo in your own Dub creations, with
or without the provided loops.
The Analogue Noises form yet a third and
different category. These are not just
samples, a lot of them can be used as
background (or foreground) loops. Loads of
techno/house vibes, which -when combined
with crucial Roots drum and bass lines-
serve very well in contemporary DUB.
OTHER WAVE FILES
On top of the vocal and
effects samples, the bulk of the wave files
are loops. Drums, Bass, Keys, and Horns
(defined as Lo-Fi brass).
DRUM WAVE FILES
There are 40 different drum rhythms, all
with a couple of variations. You don't just
get the drum loops, each specific drum is
also separately recorded and put along with
the full drum loops. This doesn't just
enable you to make a different balance of
the drum mix, for example you might want to
increase the bass drum, it's also perfect
for those that want to convert their wave
files into dr rex loops in order to create
their own drum rhythms.
BASS WAVE FILES
72 live bass lines and 50 synth lines:
that's more than enough to create several
albums full of new riddims. They range from
very militant lines obviously designed for
steppers drums to more relaxed lines, deeper
if you will, for the perfect One Drop dub.
Many lines, when you hear them, will produce
a drum rhythm in your head and there's a
huge change you'll find a matching drum
Every line tells you the start chords to
play along with as well as the BPM tempo (of
course). On top of the lines, you get all
the relevant notes as well to load in your
sampler in order to make your own bassline.
KEYBOARD WAVE FILES
The same thing -and more- can be said
about the Keys files. There's piano, Rhodes
piano, organ, and even clavinet: the
"whole" original keyboard section
that we know from the old days.
The loops are versatile, like the bass
lines. From piano chords cutting like a
sword (especially with some strategically
placed reverb) to organ shuffles, from
unmistakable clavinet licks to the Rhodes
piano which gives that ancient vibe.
On top of the loops, the keys are
provided as single tones too so you can load
them in your sampler. Just like the bass
lines. However, all the instruments also
come with single chord hits! When you're
really lazy you can just pick a few chords,
load them in the drum computer, put them on
the 2 and the 4, and off you go.
HORN SECTION WAVE FILES
Arguably the most important part of the
whole package can be found in the
"Lo-Fi Brass" map. Lo-Fi? Maybe
because the recordings are analogue,
definitely not recorded in high definition.
Crucial, because a horn section which is too
clean just doesn't seem to fit in Reggae, it
makes the music a bit too clean. After all,
you want effects on top of all
instruments... At least, in the opinion of
Horns are well-sought after, both within
the circles of musicians trying to form
collectives or bands as well as the
contemporary Dub/Reggae producer who makes
use of digital technology. For many people,
the horns are just as much part of Reggae as
the bass, at least, almost.
If only for this reason alone one and
ones should get this pack, the price won't
do much harm and for that you get no less
than 208 different loops. Structured after
opening chord and BPM tempo, that is. Some
are part of one riddim, others seem to be
more or less standing on their own. All of
them can and should be used in many Dub
productions to come.
Unfortunately, there are no single hits
for the horn section but a little bit of
editing in the wave files would even provide
you with that, this in spite of the fact
that the themes and rhythm loops themselves
provide more than enough already.
ZION TRAIN DUB SELECTIONS CONSIDERED
Even though most of the loops are also
available in Rex format, not all are.
Especially the horns need to be transformed
into the increasingly popular format which
does require some work but this same goes
for those who want to use the wave files
You might need to browse a bit before
you'll find matching chords, bassline and
horns. Otherwise,. enough room for editing
and sampling to make your own. For this
review, we only scratched the surface as the
time to dig deeper was simply not there.
Numbers used in the end of the file names at
first suggested some kind of reference to
matching files but after asking Neil Perch
of the Zion Train about it, he said that
these numbers could be ignored.
That said: you will not want to miss out
on this treasure of DUB niceness, first of
all. At the moment this is written
(September 2010) the price is just about 50
Euros which might require some to wait a
month or so but then, you're already
interested in the production of Dubwise and
probably invested something already.
All kinds of styles are represented and
can be created out of the enormous wealth of
material, all kind of production techniques
can be applied which makes the collection
interesting for people with a complete
studio to producers limited to
The four quick Dub tracks which come with
this review proof it, as far as we here in
the Dubroom are concerned: just a quick
grabbing of (closely) matching loops and
samples makes it possible to create very
What to expect when deeper digging and
more time is used to open up the box even
Just niceness, that's clear!
HERE TO CHECK OUT A DEMO PACK OR GET IT