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Lip-flipping mic-ripping flick at fest

Mark Cubey reviews upcoming Festival film, Breath Control: the History of the Human Beat Box.

19 Jul 2002

You have 7000 facial muscles, and the muscle in your tongue is up there at the top with the buttocks when it comes to strength.

You learn that in one of the Moments in Science punctuating the rhythmic displays of self-instrumentation in Joey Garfield's fast-moving 75-minute doco about people who make amazing music with their mouths.

Someone says of hip hop "it's about the drums", and Breath Control is percussive to the max, editing in epochal tunes like 'La-DiDa-Di' and 'Stick Em', and seminal artists like the late great speaker-blowing Darren 'Buff' Robinson from the Fat Boys and the inimitable Doug E Fresh.

As beats embrace clicks and all manner of sounds from 1200s' scratching to PlayStation games, we see the form develop through Biz Markie and Wise of original hip hop band Stetsasonic to newer boxers like Rahzel and Scratch ("Bobby McFerrin meets Michael Winslow") from the Roots, Afra the Tonguetable, the multilingual female styles of Zap Mama, and the techno sounds of Chris Jung. An essential primer - you even get notes on mic hygeine.

Breath Control screens at the International Film Festival with Wave Twisters (45 minutes), animated to Qbert's 1998 slate of the same name G3s by two mavericks who throw sci-fi classics, Saturday TV, vidgames and anime into the mix at 30 frames per second on Apple G3s.

I haven't seen it yet, but when it's cited as "the year's most radical and innovative animated movie" in the same breath as Monsters Inc, you know that this is a great package.

See http://www.nzff.co.nz for scheduling info and ibeatbox.com for more Breath Control.