So, is Spitfire Audio's Hans Zimmer percussion – Los Angeles featuring Jason Bonham a hit or a miss?
Whilst I was downloading HZ percussion LA I was quite worried about it and that was a first for me with a Spitfire sample library because, considering the expectations linked to the two names putting themselves forward in this collaboration, there was too much room for disappointment.
A Led Leppelin's Jason Bonham (a quite different drummer to his father but certainly no less a drummer and both hard hitters) and Hans Zimmer collaboration? Separately yes – but together?….Would it work or be a novelty?
It was not just the Jason and Hans putting their reputations on the line but Spitfire Audio themselves and even though I had heard very impressive demos on the Spitfire site I was still unconvinced that it would have the flexibility needed for a modern composer outside of a few thundering drums.
In other words this had all the potential to be a one trick pony.
So I sat down and loaded up each kit and production mix in the Kontakt player and I began to smile, then the simile turned into a grin and the grin into a downright menacing laugh.
What on earth had I been panicking about?
The most unexpected part of this library is the incredible flexibility and expansive dynamic range, oh boy can Jason whack them drums.
On the more aggressive dynamic level I think Hans and Jason discovered the previously undiscovered tonal point between hitting a drum/cymbal etc as hard as it can be hit without actually breaking it.
Normally I begin a review with what is on offer but there is so much on offer it would take over a thousand words and I am not going to wholesale copy and paste everything from Spitfire's site, just go and look yourself.
However, here is a summary: Jason Bonham plays his DW VISTALITE kits at various prestigious recording locations used in both Hollywood soundtracks and other music scorings in and around LA working with Hans Zimmer and various other engineers.
These recordings are then various mixed by Hans himself, Alan Myerson, Geoff Foster and Steve Lipson. Aside from 'kit' mixes there are also individual drum patches for you to apply more control with EQ should you wish to do so, but I will add that the overall mixes sound great as they are, but also take a broad mix EQ very well too.
The Myserson and Foster mixes give you incredible kit mixes with as have I said, a very unexpected dynamic range that handles subtlety with as much clarity as the thunderous hard hits in a very representational 'drum kit' form.
When you move over to the Hans Zimmer mixes it's an entirely different ball game, Hans is heavily landscaping the recordings and it sounds fantastic.
I love to play around with sound sculpting, but it's great to just sit back and leave the master to his craft dragging and dropping these stunning percussion samples by Hans Zimmer into your DAW and arranging them as required.
What is crazy is that I found, as with the other kit mixes, a great link to Jason himself, again this is something I have experienced with Spitfire products before (i.e. their Martyn Ware release) where you feel a certain connection not just with the sample but at times with musician performing the sample.
That is quite a privilege to experience and I hope that Spitfire expand on capturing the essence of other well known musicians.
Can you imagine Paul McCartney Hofner bass?
Anyway back to the review. I decided to compose a contextual demo (the most valuable kind IMHO) using only Spitfire Audio products (Video below) such as the Stephenson Steam Band pads from Albion 2 and Albion 3, HZ Percussion-LA , Scrapped Percussion pad styled synth patch, and a synth patch from Plucked Piano.
I threw it altogether into a mixing pot to see if it was possible to demonstrate how HZ percussion LA performs next to other Spitfire products and I think it performs amazingly well in producing dynamic variance with ease of transition between different expressions of light and shade.
I have many different percussion/drum libraries and some of them are truly magnificent, yet this one does stand out in its own right and I have a feeling I will be revisiting this library time and time again in my compositions.
Hans Zimmer certainly did bring the best out in Jason.
Between the pre-mixed kits and the individual patches, HZ Percussion really does give full flexibility on all different dynamic levels used in composition, plus you get to feel like you are working not just with Hans Zimmer but also with Jason Bonham.
I give Hans Zimmer Percussion- Los Angeles featuring Jason Bonham a score of 10/10 because it now has an almost indispensable place in my sample library.
To be honest I don't think I will be even looking at other drum/percussion Libraries for a while.