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  • Gareth Crook

808 (2015)

I’m sold on this right from the start, the opening titles are absolutely gorgeous. Sleek 3D that strides beautifully between retro chic and crisp cool. Narrated by Zane Lowe, this wants to be cool. Now that’s only gonna land if you’re at all interested in electronic music, but if you are, even if only as a fan, you’ll know about the 808. Roland’s revolutionary drum machine is iconic. Electrofunk & Hip Hop, Breakbeat & Pop, Indian Acid House & Detroit Techno. The 808 is genre hopping and genre defining. As a doc, it doesn’t break any new ground. Talking heads in a mix of locations, close ups of dusty analogue kit, VU levels, bass bins and dials. Super-8 clips of 80s New York and muted live performance, all held together with a suite of vinyl themed graphics. It’s the story told by some pretty big names that makes this work though and helps make it clear just how influential this machine was and is. New Order, Damon Albarn, Afrika Bambaatas, 808 State (obviously), Norman Cook, Mike D & Ad Rock, Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin, Goldie (who is marvellous) and Phil bloody Collins all have their say. For me it does scoot over it’s inception a bit too quickly. I’d like to have got inside the box a bit more and hear more from the creators of the machine itself. There is a nod to this side in the coda but I guess what people did with it is much sexier. Perhaps one for the music nerds, but considering we’re talking about a machine, it’s got a lot of heart.



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