Thursday, January 13, 2011
Watch Speaking In Code, With Modeselektor, Monolake and the Wighnomy Brothers
Head over to Pitchfork.tv during the next couple days to check out Speaking In Code, a long-gestating documentary by Amy Grill that chronicles the lives and dreams of techno musicians lovers around the world. It's an ambitious film, spanning years of footage and transporting the viewer from crowded lofts in Boston to the enormous stage at Barcelona's Sonar Festival. It's a study in contrasts: German standards like Berlin and Cologne are easy includes, but spots like Jena, the pastoral home of the Wighnomy Brothers, are real eye-openers.
Along with the Bros., the camera centers on Modeselektor, the mischievous BPitch duo; Monolake, Robert Henke's influential minimalist project; and Philip Sherburne, one of the sharpest electronic scribes out there. Along for the ride is David Day, Grill's husband, an impassioned Boston promoter who dreams of transforming the city into another techno nexus. Although each major character is consumed by music, Grill seeks to illustrate the very human side of its subjects, revealing their aspirations and motivations in striking interviews.
Interspersed with the main stories is an exhaustive who's who in techno, with genre pillars like Reinhard Voigt of Kompakt and Ellen Allien of BPitch Control, which give macro views of their respective labels and cities. But it's the deeply personal narratives that drive the film forward, and Grill's relationship with Day adds another layer of urgency and tension. As the credit bills stack ever higher, the two become increasingly disconnected, both fleeing into their own worlds.
The central theme of music as a form of escapism isn't particularly revolutionary, but Speaking in Code is designed as a gateway into the world as techno, rather than the last word. The nature of the music industry has made any commentary ephemeral, and already, the world has moved on since the last cut, with Modeselektor gaining global prominence with the blessings of Thom Yorke, while the Wighnomy Brothers have split into individual projects. In retrospect, the film captures that delicate moment between obscurity and stardom, a terrifying yet exciting time.
But most of all, it's about passion, and if you're reading this blog, you probably care about music to some degree, and in that case, you should watch this documentary. And if you like what you see, support the artists and buy the DVD. Immerse yourself in music.
Also, check out some bonus footage from local promoter Spinoza, who puts on the always awesome Bunker.