Mirrorball KeepInTime


Reviewed by: George Williamson

James Gadson, Roy Porter, Paul Humphrey, Earl Palmer. To most people these names mean nothing. However, to Cut Chemist, DJ Numark and DJ Babu they are all heroes, the drummers on countless rare groove classic funk and soul records. They played the beats that form the foundations of hip-hop, the core tools in any turntablist's arsenal. Mirrorball KeepInTime seeks to unite these artists and see what happens.

The film is presented in three sections. The first, Talking Drums And Whispering Vinyl, is only 13-minutes long and charts the meeting between James Gadson, Paul Humphrey, Earl Palmer and three leading lights of turntablism: Cut Chemist, DJ Babu and J-Rocc - a light introduction to each of them. Once they're all in a room together, there's clear chemistry, but the drummers find it difficult to remember recording the records over which the DJs obsess - for them it was a day job, sometimes recording hundreds of records a year. Rather than continue this line of thought they decide instead to simply jam together, drummers drum and the DJs scratch - it soon becomes clear that there is more to this than can be covered in a short film, which leads to KeepInTime: A Live Recording, a 45-minute musical mashup from two drummers, four disk jockeys, a sound artist and an MC; it's an eclectic mix. James Gadson and Paul Humphrey kick out a percussive timecode and Cut Chemist, Numark, Babu et al break it down, adding scratches, juggling beats and mixing in extra content. The final part of the film is a short trailer for BrazilInTime, KeepInTime's live show in Sao Paolo, an upcoming feature that looks incredible.

For fans of Scratch and Breath Control, or hardcore hip-hop aficionados, this concept suggests a near religious viewing experience, the chance to see their hip-hop heroes meet their heroes - sort of like Nigel Kennedy meeting Antonio Stradivari. For the casual viewer it may be a little confusing. There is rarely an explanation of exactly who is who and why they are so famous; the music is universally appealing and the talent of all involved obvious, but without backstory or frame of reference it's a bit cryptic. The camerawork is enthusiastic and the editing has some nice touches - cutting on beats and using splitscreen effects - but it's rough around the edges and would have benefited from a more seasoned hand to give a little more direction. It's not a great piece of documentary filmmaking, but the music more than makes up for it.

If you can tell your Funky Drummer from your Amen break and a twiddle from a scribble you'll love this, but if your knowledge of hip-hop starts with Eminem and ends with J-Lo you may feel a little out of your depth.

Reviewed on: 18 Aug 2005
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Turntablists meet the drummers from the records that they spin.

Director: B+ (Brian Cross)

Writer: B+ (Brian Cross)

Starring: Cut Chemist, Babu, James Gadson, J-Rocc, Numark, Roy Porter, Shortkut, Paul Humphrey, Madlib, Earl Palmer, Derf Reklaw

Year: 2005

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2005

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