This speaker-busting documentary celebrates the impressive legacy of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, whose ground-shaking futuristic beats have shaped the course of hip-hop and dance music history.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
From 80s pop and disco to old school hip-hop and electro, from techno and house to Miami bass and crunk, the Roland TR-808 drum machine has provided the boom-bastic low end for countless pop and dancefloor hits. Alexander Dunn’s stylish, genre-hopping survey of this unassuming machine’s epic influence on popular music calls on an impressive array of talking heads including the Beastie Boys, New Order, Rick Rubin, Lil Jon and lesser known bass pioneers like Man Parrish, Strafe and Dynamix II. Afrika Bambaataa and Arthur Baker are on hand to discuss the creation of their electro classic ‘Planet Rock’, while Belgian DJs Soulwax show off their secondhand 808, still haunted with the distinctive rhythm of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ (perhaps programmed by the man himself?). Dunn even tracks down octogenarian Roland head honcho Kakehashi Ikutaro who explains the secret behind the 808’s unique sound and why the machine was never brought back into production after 1983 despite the increasing demand. Deftly mixed with a procession of bass-booming tracks, this is a doco that demands to be heard on the loudest sound system possible. — MM