By the year 2000, various forms of electronic dance music had begun consuming global music culture, part of an evolution that began with the rise of home computers, cheap Roland rhythm boxes, MDMA, and a number of regional trends that had been fomenting since the early 1980s.
You know the spots: Detroit, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin, and Tokyo, where inspired young creators emboldened by the possibilities of combining inexpensive technology with rhythm and noise discovered the thrill of driving amped-up dance floors batty.
Released in 1998, the documentary Modulations traces the rise of electronic dance music from its early 20th century beginnings to the (then) present. Release notes at the time describe it as telling the story of electronic music “as one of the most profound artistic developments of the 20th century, by cutting back and forth between avant-garde composers, Kraftwerk’s innovative synthesizer drones, Giorgio Moroder’s glacial Eurodisco, Afrika Bambaata’s electrofunk, and Prodigy’s current worldwide superstardom.”
It begins with a statement of purpose penned in 1913 by experimental musician Luigi Rossolo: “We must break out of this limited circle of sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds.”
Though it jumps all over the place chronologically, the Iara Lee-directed film features a brilliant roster of interviewees, including Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Bob Moog, Bill Laswell, Juan Atkins, David Toop, Simon Reynolds, Giorgio Morodor, Matt Black (a.k.a. Coldcut), Arthur Baker, Autechre, Paul Johnson, Stacey Pullen, Carl Cox, and LTJ Bukem.
Each producer-DJ offers insight into their regional scenes, which vary both in style and intent, and writers Reynolds and Toop chime in to give context. Their thoughtful insights add depth, even if the great Chicago house DJ Derrick Carter offers the most unifying theory for the rise of house and techno: “You need a good six hours where you don’t have to worry about shit.”
With his passing, celebrating the great drummer, singer and composer through video footage With his metronomic timing, calm vocal delivery, and movie-star good looks, musician Yukihiro Takahashi left […]