Documentaries don’t often come with a disclaimer to watch on a loud soundsystem, but Talkin’ Headz - The Metalheadz Documentary deserves one. Released in 1998 and directed by John Klein, it enlists a large cast of characters to tell the story of the label and their experimental yet energetic Sunday night parties at Blue Note in London. A snapshot of the cultural moment/movement when jungle crested and drum & bass surged, it’s a hyperactive and endearing hour of jump-cuts, studio visits, and positivity.
There are interviews with nearly every major Metalheadz artist, including longer explorations with Goldie, Grooverider, Ed Rush & Optical, and Lemon D as they share insights into their creative tactics and approach. Storm & Kemistry are a notable exception—despite the fact that they were running the Metalheadz label by early 1995, neither speaks in the documentary for reasons unknown. Nonetheless, it’s a special treat to see the likes of Dillinja cook up some classics in ancient-looking studios.
There are also plentiful moments of levity, whether it’s Goldie eating a pie before the Metalheadz crew goes go-karting, Grooverider mooning the camera before a pick-up football game where Noel and Liam Gallagher are inexplicably spectators, or Lemon D gently rejecting the nastier-than-thou competition of accelerating BPMs and discussing the difference between making sounds vs. making music. At one point, DJ Lee describes the Blue Note parties as “school for drum & bass,” and this documentary is a strong start to what should be a longer syllabus.