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MTV’s Amp

we all have to start somewhere. For me, it began with MTV’s “Amp.” For those not familiar, the show was a collection of dance music videos that aired in the mid to late ‘90s. As far as my musical upbringing goes, you could call it seminal. Here is a collection of ten videos that I usually watched on Sunday afternoon after racing home from church (taped from the late Saturday night broadcast).

DHS - House of God

It’s not an understatement to say that this video changed my life. Flipping past MTV one night, I saw this crude, simple video providing images for crude and simple music. I was hooked.

Photek - Ni ten ichi ryu

Try to imagine this slotted between two Microsoft Windows 3.0 starfield screensavers. That was “Amp” in a nutshell—moments of unrelenting boredom (the worst kind of stereotypes about dance music) mixed with, you know, samurai’s fighting in the snow to abstract drum ‘n’ bass.

Carl Craig - Televised Green Smoke

It took me about five years after the fact to really understand who Carl Craig was, but I distinctly remember going out and buying More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art as soon as my Mom would drive me to the local record shop. (Thanks, Mom. You’re the best.) I wasn’t sure that I liked it, mind you. But I was sure that I’d never heard anything like it before.

Tipsy - Space Golf

I include this video only to remind myself of all of the clips that I had to fast-forward through on my VHS tapes (the lo-fi Tivo!) to get to the good stuff. It literally seemed like they would show this one every other show. Looking at it now—and understanding why they might air this show at 4 AM on a Saturday morning—I can see its appeal, but it still ain’t for me.

Fluke - Atom Bomb

I will still go to bat for Risotto. It’s one of the top five electronic full-lengths of the ‘90s in my view—and it’s one that I never hear anyone talk about anymore. After revisiting this video, I can generally understand why.

Goldie – Inner City Life

Another one of those videos that did nothing for me, aside from tipping me off to an absolutely amazing genre of music that I never knew existed. When I found out that there were more than fifteen more minutes to this song, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Coldcut – Timber

This video singlehandedly made me rep for Ninja Tune at least three years longer than I, in retrospect, should have. If you’re into this, be sure to check out “Natural Rhythm.”

Gus Gus – Believe

I remember this clip being profoundly disturbing at the time. It might have been the guy shaving the hair around his nipples.

DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World

Like most, this video meant little outside of the tip to go out and buy this disc immediately. Check for Dan the Automator on the keys.

Future Sound of London - We Have Explosive

Before Burial, FSOL was the group mapping out the decaying framework of a city. “We Have Explosive” was their anthem.

Praxis - Animal Behavior

I honestly have no recollection of ever seeing this video, but a website devoted to listing every video AMP aired claims that it was shown. I think if you watch for at least one minute you’ll understand why I decided to include it.

By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2007-02-09
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