Hands-On Review:Kontakt, B4 and Battery
By Leo Bagamout
I was working with my band on demos of a few new songs when I received a call for session work-on the other side of the continent! I needed to finish these demos, but without my band I had to explore alternatives. I logged onto Musician’s Friend’s Web site and ordered Native Instrument’s Battery, their percussion sampler; Kontakt, their sampling synth; and B4 -their stunning re-creation of the Hammond B3.
The package came the next day (thanks, FedEx!), just hours before my flight to the left coast. I loaded all three into my laptop where I could use them with my DAW. I packed my bags (including my guitar and an Oxygen8 keyboard), and headed out.
Time flies …
After racing through traffic, check-in, security (where you’d think they’d never seen a mini keyboard before), and barely making my flight, I was ready to make music! I launched my DAW and Battery, made sure all my audio and MIDI connections were set, and then dug into Battery’s sounds. What a selection! Everything from reggae drums to Reaktor samples, sparking an endless stream of new ideas! However, I was on a mission so I selected a basic jazz kit and got down to business. Using the Oxygen8, I laid in the "A" section with a kick and snare groove, followed by overdubs of toms, cymbals, and fills. In similar form, I added the "B" section, bridge, and chorus to complete the drums. After fine-tuning the grooves on the MIDI track, I directed Battery’s output into a pair of audio tracks and recorded the stereo audio drum track.
After finishing the drums-somewhere over Ohio-I launched Kontakt and loaded in a fretless electric bass-one of the hundreds of presets that come with Kontakt. I don’t know if it was the altitude or the tones, but inspiration grabbed me and I had the complete bass line sequenced and burned onto a stereo audio track in record time.
Next, I launched B4. I started with a preset, pulled out the third harmonic, and did my best Jimmy Smith (thanking the miracles of MIDI editing to correct my timing). By the time we landed, I had created the entire backing tracks to my new tune. Later that night I ran my guitar through the pre-amp/Leslie section of the B4 for an awesome rhythm guitar tone!
When you’re having fun
When you can’t be with the band you love, it’s easy to love the band you’re with-if your musicians are such stellar performers as Kontakt, Battery, and B4! In fact, they’ve become an indispensable part of my audio arsenal. I’ve only got two thumbs, but both of them are up!