Saturday, August 6, 2016

#15 Scratch (2001)

It took a while, but I finally managed to pop the dvds from the "Scratch" / "Freestyle" double-box in the player. First up was "Scratch". A 15 year old film by now, but the enthusiasm and talent in it will never get old. What a joy seeing folks like Mixmaster Mike cutting it with a playfulness and inventiveness that in a way defies expectations of what is possible on a somewhat limited "instrument".

Not being part of the scene - living on the other side of the planet - I would have a hard time being informed on every single player in it. Also, I'm not even part of the "local scene" in Denmark. I do know several of them, the obvious being the likes of Afrika Bambaata, Mixmaster Mike, Qbert and DJ Shadow. The good thing is that the film serves as a great introduction to a whole line of other talents (and obviously, much has happened since 2001). Known or presumably pretty unknown.

The film knows it also has an educational purpose, so both history and techniques in scratching is explored. Sets a few facts straight and help the rest of us get a bit wiser on the artform. Still, of course mystery triggers creativity. Like the film exemplifies in an interview where Mixmaster Mike tells the story of the first time he heard the sound of scratching - without seeing it. He ended up recreating it on his tape recorder. There you go, he-he.

The music you take in in your teens stays with you forever. For me that was back in 1989-1991 with acts like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and De La Soul etc. when these reached Danish shores. When it all went gangsta and bling with stupid aggression and superficiality I lost interest. The fire was rekindled around 2003 or so when I heard the album "Sloppy Doctor" by Bleubird. Although I was in on DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing" from the start in 1996, but I guess it spoke just as much to my taste for instrumental music then. Around 2003 I also got into the more progressive stuff from the Anticon label. I finally discovered that the genre still had plenty to offer.

Upon relistening the oldies I used to have on home-copied tapes I found that I still remembered every note, break and word (or the sound of the word). This time I even understood the lyrics! Sure, I sensed the lunacy in the Beasties and rage and urgency in Public Enemy, but the details were mostly lost on me first time around. Now I could appreciate it all over again. I was just a young countryside suburban middle class kid when rap and hip-hop first hit the world in all its creative glory. But it's stayed with me ever since. Which is partly why I of course enjoy a film such as "Scratch".

The films comes as a special edition 2-disc set in the box alongside "Freestyle" (so that's three discs in total). Disc 2 has various instructional extras and previous of other things. It also says it's a digitally restored widescreen transfer. Still, the film is a bit lo-fi... and probably all the more better for it. Keep it real, right?

/ Lars

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