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Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box

"Breath Control" is a lively docu on beat boxing, a form of music defined by one practitioner as "the art of using your mouth to generate sounds that are usually made by machines." Inventive edit mixes clips, jazzy cartoons and mock-scientific anatomical diagrams to concoct a pic that's got a good sense of humor and great rhythm.

Cast:
With: Emanon, Rahzel, Skratch, Wise, Daddy-o, 4Zone, ShaSha, Click, DOA, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Baba, Marie Daulne.

“Breath Control” is a lively docu on beat boxing, a form of music defined by one practitioner as “the art of using your mouth to generate sounds that are usually made by machines.” Inventive edit mixes performance clips, musicvideos, jazzy cartoons, snappy rapping heads and mock-scientific anatomical diagrams to concoct a pic that’s got a good sense of humor and great rhythm. Outlook for fest, television and even limited-run venues appears excellent, as pic presents a positive, viewer- and artist-friendly history of one of the funkier aspects of hip-hop.

More than 30 casually interviewed beat boxers discuss their art and sometimes interact musically in service to helmer Joey Garfield’s deftly intercut musical history lesson-cum-jam session. The vocal musicians eulogize the gentle giant of their art, Buff, of the Fat Boys (seen on TV treating a startled Regis Philbin to an impromptu percussive riff) and ponder the usually divisive question of who did what first, and Zap Mama (Marie Daulne, herself the subject of the Belgian docu “Mizike Mama”) expounds on the primacy of oral traditions in Africa while enthusiastically imitating all the animals of the jungle in colorful syncopation.

Everybody exudes a kind of mellow zeal: Whether lounging in a studio, posed against the pond in Central Park or sitting in a barber chair getting a head shave, the artists discuss the 15-year evolution of their craft with passionate attention to detail. And it doesn’t hurt that they can so effortlessly demonstrate their points with amazing vocal sound effects that uncannily mimic everything from a full set of snares to the multiple levels of an effects-heavy computer game.

Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box

Production: A Filet 'O' Fresh production. Produced by Joey Garfield, Jacob Craycroft and Zachary Mortensen. Directed by Joey Garfield.

Crew: Camera (digital video), Garfield; editor, Jacob Craycroft; sound, Ted Ganon; animation, Kimson Albert; associate producer, D. Lexington Haverly. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Center, N.Y., April 25, 2002. (In Tribeca Film Festival.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Emanon, Rahzel, Skratch, Wise, Daddy-o, 4Zone, ShaSha, Click, DOA, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Baba, Marie Daulne.

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