February 22, 2006

The Amen Break Is Everywhere

This link found the other day over at BoingBoing points to an absolutely fascinating documentary/video installation about the "Amen" break, a break beat from a 1969 B-side by soul act The Winstons that has been sampled so often in so many scenarios that filmmaker/narrator Nate Harrison believes the beat has entered into a "collective audio unconscious." Harrison offers clips of the beat being used by 3rd Bass ("Words of Wisdom"), N.W.A. ("Straight Outta Compton") and Mantronix ("King of the Beats"). The beat is the primary foundation for Jungle music. Frankly, the beat's ubiquity as described by Harrison is astonishing. A heavy-duty music fan may have spent the equivalent of entire days of their lives listening to the beat in various iterations. Squarepusher used it in '97, Hrvatski in '98. There's an Internet radio station that plays an endless loop of music based on the beat. The beat is everywhere, it's like oxygen. Hit this link and watch the video. It is the most interesting piece of media you will consume this month, easily. Oh, and The Winstons? They've apparently never made a cent off the beat being sampled. Harrison goes further, finding versions of the beat actually being sold by third parties who have never licensed it.

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