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‘All Hail The Beat’: a short history of the Roland Tr-808


 
Don’t you love it when those murky, endless swamps of internet spam throw up something that you really enjoy? I’m sure it’s all a co-incidence, as it’s unlikely that Google knows from the number of times I have typed the numbers “808” that I’m a bit obsessed with that machine, is it?

All Hail The Beat is a three minute film by author and journalist Nelson George that’s a great introduction to (and summary of) the history of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. It’s also a neat little follow up to the Bang The Box mix I posted earlier today, which features lots and lots (and lots and lots) of banging’ 808s.

Roland’s Tr-808 Rhythm Composer was first produced in 1980, and has gone on to become one of the most influential machines in modern music. Its sonorous booms and claps are heard everywhere from Afrika Bambaataa and Egyptian Lover to Beck, Lil Wayne, Aphex Twin, Missy Elliot, Talking Heads, Marvin Gaye, Rihanna and far beyond. It’s all over hip-hop, electro, R&B, house and techno, and is the basis of underground dance genres like crunk, booty bass and New Orleans bounce. Kanye West named an album after it and even Madonna can be heard warbling about the wildness of its drum sounds on her latest single (whose production, funnilly enough, featured no actual 808s.)

Nelson George, whose face you’ll recognise from many other music documentaries, here speaks to veterans like Arthur Baker and Juan Atkins about the machine. He sums All Hail The Beat, and the 808, up thusly:

The Roland TR-808 drum machine inspires musicians around the world, even though the device hasn’t been made since 1984 — and most of its avid users have never actually seen one.

Oh how I long to get a real one of these some day…
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Phone Sex Grandma’ - a short film

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Phone Sex Grandma is a short film by Jack Truman about an older female telephone sex worker that follows her routine for a day as she goes about her business. While it could be argued that this film has a lot to say about the socio-economic place of gender and the role of the elderly in declining late-capitalist society, you should probably just forget all that and admit that it’s really funny.

Old people having sex (or in this case talking sexy) is one of the oldest tropes in the comedy handbook - but you’ve gotta hand it to this woman, when it comes to sexy talk she is a pro. And I mean a professional. Check out 3:10 where she is taking a piss AND talking sexy AND pretending to be East Asian! Or 5:20 when she is taking a bath, reading Darwin, talking sexy AND pretending to be black! That is some epic multitasking right there. Phone Sex Grandma is my new (NSFW) hero:

EDIT: from the Phone Sex Grandma IMDB page (which states that the film is a “mockumentary”):

Director Jack Truman and star Opal Dockery are a real-life Mother/Son filmmaking team

WTF?!?

 

 
Thanks to Tickle for the link.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment