Pour some port, find a comfy spot on the couch, and fire up the YouTubes. A surprisingly-rich raft of terrific documentary video for synth and electronic music enthusiasts has been making the rounds.

In our queue: Analog Suicide interviews a legendary vintage synth spot in Berlin, an hourlong documentary features not only Richie Hawtin but a range of techno pioneers, as well as other shorts from T-Mobile (yes, the phone company), and the BBC scores more history of the British side of the synth revolution in music. Sit down and get ready, because here we go.

From Detroit to Berlin and Back: In-depth Interviews with Pioneering Artists

At top: an hour-plus documentary produced for T-Mobile’s Electronic Beats series follows the rise of techno legend Richie Hawtin, including some terrific Detroit footage with artists like Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and of course Magda. Love him or hate him, Richie’s impact on electronic music is formidable, and it’s great to see coverage finally return to a tale of his roots. It seems the perfect way to get ready for Detroit’s Movement Festival, starting May 28. Via the astute music coverage on the XLR8R blog, here by Ken Taylor.

There’s quite a lot more Electronic Beats TV on the YouTube page:

Here are a few of my favorites. Kangding Ray of Raster-Noton is framed by signature, hypnotic minimal visuals. He has some wonderful things to say about the beauty of materials in sampling. Then there’s some beautiful footage of TESSEL, a morphing architectural form which really deserves some separate coverage here. Have a look:

Thomas Heckmann looks at machines, vintage and circuit bent, and talks about working with their idiosyncrasies in musical production.

From the role of machines to the role of humans, Moderat talk about collaboration as therapy, and what it does for them … and then go parachute jumping. I think people falling from a plane makes the perfect soundtrack.

Conversations for Synth Lovers, via AnalogSuicide

AnalogSuicide’s Tara Busch is one of our favorite journalists covering synthesis, and a great artist to boot. This week, she visits the legendary vintage synth destination Schneiders Beuro in Berlin. Via Synthtopia, who, like MatrixSynth, I think has an alarm that goes off when videos hit YouTube with certain keywords – incredible.

On the producer side, massively-accomplished producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Wire, Erasure) makes an appearance, too:

Lots more where that came from:

Synth Brittania

Via our friend and Chicago producer/nerd fashionista/writer Liz McLean Knight comes a BBC Four documentary that covers British synth artists in the late 70s and early 80s, including Joy Division, Human League, Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, and Gary Numan.

There’s just too much goodness here. I want to sit down with the past and present staff of Keyboard and watch this one. Watch it while the Beeb lets you.

I’m personally gratified in that I believe technically and artistically, we’re entering another of these sorts of ages. Who knows what the cultural impact may be, but at least for those passionate artists and technologists who are involved, something’s happening. And these videos are a great place to begin for inspiration.

So, now that you have those to watch, I guess I really need not write until Monday! See you then! (joke … sort of.)

  • pr


  • http://sumsuntube.blogspot.com/

    I have been collecting electronic music documentaries and weird sci fi movies on youtube for a little while now.

    I think you would enjoy the selection. I am going to add the ones I dont have from here.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Sumsun: wow, nice! Will definitely be looking through that.

  • It's only recent that i've started to follow Richie's work closer. He's a really awesome dj, more likely to say performer, and a great down to earth guy. Ok, his style must not be everybody's cup of tea, but he knows more about music and the technology behind it then any other "new kid on the block".

  • Peter Kirn

    @VSide: Don't mention tea. 😉

    But yes, Richie's an amazing artist and guy, whatever people want to think.

  • Juno

    While it is always good to give out praise, it's so sad that every artist has to be called 'a pioneer'. They are – if you ignore the people just in front of them, and the people in front of them and so on.

    We should praise contribution to the endless flow, not try and fence off this or that person. That's really anti social.

  • FreakWithoutACause

    Ugh. Yet another reason to spend hours on the internet;) The Richie Hawtin doc was surprisingly well- rounded. I had no idea his dad was a circuit-bender who built interfaces for his son & mom used to collect tickets at the door to his DJ sets. (My favorite scene is when mom recalls how people would try to get in for free by claiming to be a close relative and she'd tell them "Well I'm Richie's mom" & then they'd walk away or when she describes helping to clean up after performances and the look of disgust on her face when she describes finding things…she didn't expect to find…)

  • ideletemyself

    I watched that Richie Hawtin doc. when Sythtopia posted it a few days back and am glad you posted it here as well. It was a great watch and pretty inspiring when you think of how much B.S. he had to go through early on and even the bit about him being denied entry to the U.S. … There's some really great interviews that you've posted here and on their channel on Youtube as well. Thx! 🙂

  • Human Plague

    Does Hawtin read this site?

    Seen in Hamilton circa 96. 

    Just saying…


  • lala

    sorry to ruin the party again, but all that stuff except for the Moderat clip is old

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, the Kangding Ray clip was on YouTube for *two whole weeks* — ancient in Internet years.

    Much of the gear in the clips, too – old. 

    In fact, you'll find that anything commenting on history is just looking at things in the past. Seriously. Totally over.

  • lala

    i dont watch tv 😉

  • lala

    talking about old numbers of slices you forgot peter kuhlmann (pete namlook):

  • TJ

    Don't miss the goodness in the BBC's "Kraut Rock" series, either, which includes many legendary performers (e.g. part 3 begins with Klaus Schulze … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWjYqMxhEfU … also Popul Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk… see it while u still can… )

  • technoton

    Hawtin an electronic music "pioneer"? I don't think so, he certainly contributed to the development of "electronic dance music," as did many other producers and DJs back in the day, but this thing runs like a PR stunt.

    The words "pioneer" and "genius" (another one that is thrown about quite loosely these days) have certainly lost there currency.