What struck me right away is that this site is completely no-bullshit.
Two things are going on here. One, it's a great sample library of really unique sounds made by creative musicians who want you to take them and use them. Single-shots, loops, analog instruments, digital instruments, vocals, modular synths, the whole deal.
Two, it's an ONLINE CLOUD-BASED SAMPLER!!! Are these the first people doing this?
It means you are sending MIDI to the cloud, through a Max4Live device, and getting audio back into your Ableton session.
This is so incredible it makes me want to spray a rainbow of binary glitter from here to the center of the Sun. Before electronic music came from laptops, it was all about using hardware samplers. It was about not having the sounds you wanted, sampling from vinyl and cassettes and whatever you could find, having to load it all into the sampler from zero every time you turn it on, then having to save each sample-kit-program when you were done, naming files using a weird cursor and a number pad... it was not easy work making beats, let me tell you.
But back to Rubber Tracks. You get to the main page and see a whole screen of tiled photos, each showing musicians and gear from recording sessions where they made the sounds for you to download free. Lots of really interesting audio here, seriously, it's a smorgasbord.
Each square has a play button right on top and there are hundreds of them (I didn't count).
Who cares how many there are when it is SOFA KING EASY to browse around and find cool sound. You click the little heart when you like one and it gets saved to your collection.
You drag the sound you like to a drum pad on their 8-grid sampler window and it's ready to play from your computer keyboard keys.
Save it to a "Kit" in your account, your free account by the way, and the Kit you made online shows up in the M4L plugin, ready to play from MIDI notes in a session. Just like that. (Their how-to installer page is right HERE.)
I just installed it and made a beat with some sounds I chose at random. Everything you're about to hear came from the M4L plugin and a MIDI clip of notes. I tweaked some knobs and bounced it out through the stock limiter. Granular delay and pitchdrop are built into their sampler right next to the filters and an ADSR envelope; these guys know which nipples to give you for tweaking.
That graphic sucks but I wanted to show you the login page from inside Live, because it's doing my head in. Look at the system of new things -- you can now go from an online sample library, through the Live and M4L tools, then export directly to soundcloud and even hit the LANDR automated mastering chain on the way back in (to the cloud). I'm not saying I love the LANDR sound but it's pretty interesting to see how much of the process just went off-site from our studios.
A note on usage -- if you're expecting to bust open device chains like you do in Live9 Sampler and edit each sound in detail, you can't. Who cares. The creative limitation of having a gazillion sounds and only 8 squares will make you come up with totally cool stuff that you never could have invented on Sampler. And that's the magic of gear. Every piece of gear forces you to work in its own way, which leads to its own unique creative flow, like it or not. A walk in the forest is different from a trip to the zoo and CRT is the forest..
But I want to come back to the feeling here, because the impressive thing about Converse Rubber Tracks is the range of music you can find. Without even trying very hard I heard solo B3 organ, funk and rock jams, world music, vocalists, glitch beats, violin and tabla, and industrial percussion objects that people bang on to make sound, and most importantly...
...you got SOUL in every session. How do I put that into words? It's real live sweaty people doing what they love, fearlessly. No glitz no photoshop no "he's-a-grammy-winning-producer" and no artificial sweetener added.
After falling completely in love with the sounds, I looked a little deeper to see what it's all about, and found some beautiful philosophy of music and musicians:
"The Converse Rubber Tracks Sample Library is a royalty-free library of one shots, loops, and stems recorded at Rubber Tracks studios. Created in partnership with Indaba Music, the library will provide a unique resource for musicians all over the world at no cost. Creators are free to explore, download, experiment, and create using library samples and are empowered to utilize the resulting works in unlimited ways."
These folks are definitely tapped in to the future of global music.
What I like best is their community focus. They invite local musicians to apply for free studio time in Brooklyn, to come in and do a session, and even keep copyright control of their own recordings! I love it. Thank you internet for making this possible.
By the way, this project is supported by Indaba music. You have to setup an account with Indaba in order to get access to the Rubber Tracks library, but it's free and only costs you the brain power to make a new password. That's easy enough in exchange for what you get.
Did I mention that a decent sampler used to cost at least $1,000 USD? Ya. Free online sampler is like, we're living in a sonic paradise.
Stop and check out this site, send them a message and thank them.