The avenue

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With New Year’s Eve quickly approaching and many of us likely to be getting wasted to some shade of electronic dance music now is as a good time as any to swot up on some of the creative origins of the soundtrack to our excesses. I’ve posted below a couple of documentaries on the roots of dance as we know it today.

The first documentary called High Tech Soul: The Creation Of Techno Music was recommended to me by my friend Katrien (thanks!) and focuses on the roots of techno in Detroit and the three central figures who pioneered the genre and coined its name – Kevin Saunderson Derek May and Juan Atkins. It’s got some brilliant moments and has lots of exclusive interview footage with the Belleville Three themselves as well as some other techno legends including Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, John Acquaviva, Kenny Larkin, Jeff Mills and Carl Cox.

Youtube has split the doc in to nine parts, the first of which is below. The DVD can be got for a reasonable price at play.com here.

An interesting short documentary on the amen break has also cropped up on youtube. Admittedly the narrator is slightly annoying, but on the whole it serves as an an incisive look at what is possibly the most influential six second drum loop ever created. For those who don’t know, the amen break is a short breakbeat sample taken from the middle of a 1969 funk tune entitled Amen Brother by The Winstons. It has been used extensively in hip hop, jungle and old skool rave – and still crops up on many records released today.

Depending on your perspective it can either seem a triumph of human creativity that people have been able to re-use, rehash and splice the same short loop to create a whole array of new and interesting forms or, on the other hand, it can be slightly depressing that in a way we’ve all been listening to minor variations on the same track since the 1980s. Either way…

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