Today I will take a closer look at Bollywood Maharaja Drums, a new ROMpler instrument plugin (Windows/Mac, 32- & 64-bit) by Beatskillz.
We also had a meeting with Beatskillz along with the release of the free Beatfactory Drums, a high quality drum machine with an impressive arsenal of samples for hip hop, trap, pop and EDM. But this time, we speak of something totally different, both in terms of sound source, and structure.
So, Bollywood Maharaja Drums is a ROMpler, which means it plays a set of predefined samples, and unlike samplers, it doesn’t load samples or record audio signal. But this is not an impediment, especially as it has something to brag about: a collection of ethnic Indian percussion sounds, distributed it kits and styles. These sounds, delivered in a pleasant and easy to use format, recall the sounds used in the rhythms found in Bollywood pop/dance hits which are becoming more popular from year to year. Bollywood Maharaja Drums sounds contemporary and fits perfectly in hip hop, pop, trap, and why not, EDM.
The music producers were always fascinated by the oriental rhythms, and they tried to introduce them in their productions, in a subtle or obvious manner. You will not go wrong with Bollywood Maharaja Drums, especially as it doesn’t lacks of credibility and authenticity. The sounds are recorded at source, in India, with some of the most appreciated musicians of Bollywood. Various ethnic percussion instruments were recorded, then the samples were passed through outboard equalizers and compressors to get the punchy and bold sound which is popular these days.
And bit by bit, Bollywood Maharaja Drums got to contains a huge set of 100 kits, which, multiplied by 12 samples each, are giving us a total of… 1200 one shot drum sounds (2.5GB of samples). It is cool that these sounds aren’t “locked” in the plugin, they are also offered in WAV format, as distributed in kits, so you can load them into the favorite software/hardware samples, modify them, layer, or anything else you can imagine.
Now that we know how is the sound, let’s look a little bit at the interface. Bollywood Maharaja Drums is pleasing to the eye, with a color scheme reminiscent of copper and aluminum, with various subtle floral patterns and an elephant in the middle.
On the top, we have aligned the presets drop-down menu with quick access to all kits, the instrument logo, and the company logo. Next, in the middle, there are global controls (colored in black) for volume, release, reverb and pitch. These controls are flanked by knobs for volume and panning for each sound/pad, plus LED’s that indicate which sound is in use. Moving on to the bottom of the interface, we find 12 asymmetric pads with notes spread across an octave: first row corresponding to the black keys on the keyboard, and the second row to the whites.
That’s all about the interface, perhaps I should add that the pads have a realistic animation when pressed, they’re lighting up completely. As an observation, while turning the buttons, I often felt the need of a reset feature, which is missing in current version of the plugin. So, I found it difficult to appreciate if the panning is exactly in the middle, or if the global pitch is in its default state. On the other hand, Bollywood Maharaja Drums has a very good reverb module implementation, making it a good handy choice for adding room & space to the drums.
Returning to the sound, you might believe that this plugin is good only for percussion, tops or layering. But this is wrong, Bollywood Maharaja Drums is a freestanding machine drum, able to offer a complete beat. It has the regular kick/snare/hihat/clap/percussions configuration, of course, their location depending on the kit you select. The ethnic kits range from Desi hip hop samples to polished Bollywood sounds, from very popular Masala beats to organic kits and hypnotic Bhangra percussions, and much much more. As bonus, Bollywood Maharaja Drums comes also with some EDM/808/909 kits, so you’ll never have to look elsewhere. For example, if you’re making a hip hop beat and you feel like an ethnic kit is too raw, just layer it with a second instance of the plugin having one of 808 kits loaded.
I was very impressed with this instrument, especially as I have a little fetish in terms of oriental rhythms, and if it were me, I would spice up any song with them. Bollywood Maharaja Drums is one of those plugins that make you work with a smile on your face, giving you access to the fascinating world of Indian rhythm and feel.