Pump Up The Volume (documentary)


I had a day off work to recover from a large night out partying for a friend’s birthday. That usually means blobbing on the couch, some Facebooking (it’s a verb now) and reading tweets. I follow King Britt who posted a link to a documentary on the history of house music.  It’s 2 hours 15 minutes long but given I had little to do, settled down to watch.  If you’ve a passing interest in dance music or even wondered where those boom boom sounds evolved from – I suggested you check it out.

Having grown up through disco then into the rise of house and beyond, it was a story I was mostly familiar with but hearing first hand from the people who created the sounds and developed the scene was fascinating.  The doco is littered with amazing seminal tunes and traces the origins of house in Chicago right through to the UK Garage sound of 2001. What’s great is to hear the evolution of sounds and the creativity of producers who added, subtracted and constructed new music to create new experiences on the dance floor.  Here’s a few things I learned:

  • The Roland TB-303 synthesiser  was originally a machine for karaoke, and the DJs didn’t know how to use it, so just twiddled the knobs and recorded the sounds – acid house was born.
  • The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds vocal is a sampled talking from Rickie Lee Jones.
  • Much of the music wasn’t as considered or contrived as you’d expect. Armand van Helden said he just makes beats
  • The UK was more influential in the development of house than the US – where is still remains an underground sound
  • Criminal Justice Bill and Public Order Act was introduced in the UK in 1993 in order to curb the rave scene and people marched in protest

I’d like to see dance culture and music from 2001 to the present documented –  while there hasn’t been the same groundbreaking shifts in sounds (in my opinion) there’s funky house, more garage, drum & bass,  minimal, dubstep and nu-disco, plus the recent merger of dance/electro and US hip hop.

Edit: Thanks Jason for the corrections.

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2 Responses to Pump Up The Volume (documentary)

  1. jasonfist says:

    Hmm… I’ll cut you some slack because you were hung over, but:

    – Rickie (sic) Lee Jones is sampled talking on Little Fluffy Clouds. She doesn’t sing.
    – I’m guessing Armin van Helden is Armand van Helden’s brother. Or perhaps it’s Armand van Buuren?

    Oh, just get me some more aspirin.

    • dbmcnz says:

      Good catch on both and my large hangover is my only excuse albeit a poor one. I also didn’t write as I watched so my blurry head was recalling detail. I’d like an Armin vs Armand collaboration now. Thx for reading.

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