Like the modulars themselves, an upcoming documentary on these analog synth beasts has been lurking behind closed doors. But that won’t be the case for long. “I Dream of Wires,” the crowd-funded documentary that probes artists’ fascination with making music by connecting patch cords, will see a public showcase at Montreal’s MUTEK Festival. This and an upcoming film release, atop a big get-together in New York, could make this a proper summer of modular.
In anticipation of their showcase, MUTEK has released two significant excerpts from the film. One talks to Carl Craig, Detroit techno legend, top. Craig describes how this tech has influenced his music, and what inspired him to look at modulars. The other clip – true to MUTEK’s Canadian home base and the origin country of the film itself – looks at Canada’s contribution to electronic music history. Detroit’s place in techno certainly needs no introduction, but it’s about time Canada got its role in synthesis recognized (below), having given the world pioneer Hugh Le Caine and the University of Toronto Electronic Music Lab, among other highlights. This excerpt turns the clock forward to modern-day synth goodness. We’re of course happy to know of a certain digital synth designed in Canada, but here the modular Renaissance gets the spotlight. As the film creators explain:
Recently, Canada has again come to play a significant role with the modern day resurgence of modular synthesizers; it is home to two highly respected manufacturers: Modcan, founded by Toronto’s Bruce Duncan, was the first company to reintroduce modular synthesizers to the post-MIDI marketplace, and Intellijel, founded by Vancouver’s Danjel Van Tijn, is one of the fastest growing and most respected lines of Eurorack synthesizer modules.
The MUTEK showcase will include live modular performances by Sealey/Greenspan/Lanza (Orphx/Junior Boys), Keith Fullerton Whitman (Kranky/Editions Mego), Solvent (Ghostly International/Suction Records), Clark (Warp Records), and Container (Spectrum Spools).
The film itself is a production of director Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm (aka Ghostly International recording artist Solvent); Solvent is also composing the musical score. This isn’t simply a history of electronic music; instead, it focuses on the modern revival of the instruments. (The history is a subject of a future film, but we’ll let them finish this one first.)
It’s worth saying that modular synths aren’t all pleasure – they bring some pain, too. That’s why it’s worth watching the interviews excerpted in the November promo for the film. In that piece, even as they sing the praises of modular analog’s joys, musicians talk about challenges ranging from live performance setup to tuning. It’s impossible to understand the love for these instruments without grasping some of their idiosyncrasies. In the earlier clip, you see everyone from builder Lori Napoleon to pioneer and custodion of electronic music history Joel Chadabe to composers like the late Richard Lainhart and the legendary Morton Subotnick, as well as builders and the film’s own Solvent.
The filmmakers continue to raise funds from fans. A recent West Coast USA tour, funded by IndieGogo, added interviews with Trent Reznor, John Tejada, cEvin Key, Jack Dangers, Bernie Krause, Richard Devine, Make Noise, Cynthia, The Harvestman, SynthTech/MOTM, Metasonix, Intellijel, and others.
Round 3 funding: http://www.indiegogo.com/IDOW-round3
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