eyewitnessnews

Watch a 1986 TV story on house music, plus too many documentaries

In our last episode of “watching things on the Internet instead of doing real work,” we were enjoying a full-length 90s electronic music documentary and a bunch of music videos. Well, here we are at yet another weekend. And hopefully we can give you some video watching pleasure yet again, in those moments when you aren’t, well, hopefully, making music. Leading the pack is a 1986 story from Chicago TV news back when house music was in its early days, as spotted by Dancing Astronauts. And it’s an astounding document, featuring Danny “Sweet-D” Wilson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Steve “Silk” Hurley, …

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modulations

Watch a full-length electronic documentary from the 90s, and more free videos

America’s on-again, off-again love affair with electronic music – often, with idioms it helped create – is endlessly full of unexpected twists and turns. But all this bears examining. For some, it’s a journey back to the music that first inspired them. For others, it’s a chance to learn, perhaps, how where music has been might help lead to where it’s going. It’s a chance not just to repeat electronic music past, but go beyond it. And if you’re looking for something to entertain you this weekend, you could do worse than Modulations, a documentary from 1998. Back then, it …

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808movie

On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …

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redrectangle

This 1971 Dancing Rectangle from Poland Predicts Modern Techno, AV

Sonic history in electronic music may be made with technology, but it’s also the output of someone’s brain. As such, it’s natural that liberated creativity can produce all kinds of possibilities. And it should be no surprise that history sometimes comes in cycles. Or… make that rectangles. Speaking of Poland, this short animation, crafted in 1971, features spooky sounds that would be at home on any modern dark techno floor. Entitled “Prostokąt dynamiczny” – literally, “dynamic rectangle” – the animation is by experimental filmmaker Józef Robakowski, with music by the incredible Eugeniusz Rudnik. We saw Rudnik yesterday in our piece …

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Marek Biliński live in Warsaw, 2013. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Robert Drózd.

Discover Poland’s Electronic Music Pioneers, Modern Artists: Boiler Room and Beyond

The setting looks futuristic — like Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Syd Mead to make a theme park. But it’s actually Warsaw and environs. And the path the future is via the past, and a history largely unknown outside of the country. Boiler Room, best known for webcasting parties, shifts gears from what’s new-and-hip to where it all began, and the result is inspiring. The film was directed by Marcin Filipek for Boiler Room with the input of Gosia Herman of Boiler Room Poland, and is the result of half a year spent gathering artists. The stunning imagery is the …

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Like Music From Another Planet: India’s Exploding Electronic Scene, in Videos, Sounds

Welcome to the 21st Century. One day, you’ve got no radio, and you’re dubbing music onto cassettes – if you’re rich. The next, you’re part of a wired global music phenomenon dancing to avant-garde electronic noises made by machines – and you’re learning how to make those sounds yourself for an audience back on the other side of the planet. (Hey, I’m just a Kentucky boy. I find this all futuristic, too.) Yet it may be the ones in denial about this phenomenon are some of us who have been living in the big cities – New York, Berlin, LA, …

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jojo

The Human Drummer Battles Drum Machine, in Poetic Film with Jojo Mayer

Between Zero & One from ApK on Vimeo. What does it mean to be human in a world of drum machines? Not just whether drum machines have soul – how do you define your soul? Drummer Jojo Mayer doesn’t shy away from the deep issues around digitality in the brief film meditation that is Between Zero & One. He reflects on the states of being that the computer and machine represent, and then he does what any great drummer would do. He doesn’t get mad. He gets even. He refines drum technique to play what a drum machine can’t, framed …

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frankie_gray

Why Frankie Knuckles Mattered: Read, Watch, and Hear

The passing last week of Frankie Knuckles has led to an outpouring of remembrance for this dance music pioneer, a signal of just how deeply and broadly his work was felt. To give us greater insight, CDM turns in our obituary to Denise Dalphond, the enthnomusicologist who has devoted much of her work to researching the roots of electronic dance music in America. (Her PhD dissertation, “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music,” is due soon.) She gives us her thoughts on Knuckles’ significance as well as lining up some of the best places to watch and hear …

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Wiring, Electronic and Emotional: Watch A Moving Short Film about Contollerist Moldover

Electronic musicians – controllerists, if you will – may choose to augment themselves with machines. They may build elaborate custom electronics so they can express themselves live more than the default music technology would otherwise allow – acoustic, amplified, or digital. But there has to be a human there first. In a documentary film from November, Moldover talks about what drives him to make music. It’s that emotional place that motivates both his technological expression and songwriting, and that’s something I imagine will be poignant whatever genre you choose as your own.

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mM5

A Naked Man Plays Robots and Finds Love; A Quadriplegic Finds a Voice in Music

Man & Machine: A Naked Robotic Love Story from Jesse Roesler on Vimeo. Making music with machines, we all become somehow more than human. We are people, augmented by technology. Those technologies strip us bare, expose us as naked emotionally … sometimes, literally. Through the eyes of one filmmaker, here are two parallel images that drive that point home. Last week at Berlin’s CTM Festival, we began a week-long hacklab by touring the Generation Z exhibition with curator Andrey Smirnov. One thing Andrey repeatedly emphasizes about the revolutionary Russian artists who came together in the 1920s is their belief in …

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