FILM REVIEW | MOOG
photo manipulation by nacrowe
MOOG (ZU33, 2004) is a documentary about DR. ROBERT MOOG and the cultural legacy of his namesake analog MODULAR SYNTHESIZERS. most of the film takes place at his home and nearby office, both in ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, where director HANS FJELLESTAD interviews him one-on-one about the nature of innovation and creating instruments hitherto unimagined.
and for me that is the crux of this documentary. the idea of what goes into a market disruption. in his case, ROBERT MOOG had a curiosity to build and explore the sonic possibilities found in ANALOG CIRCUITS. and that explorer mentality to experiment with new technology and simultaneously seek out and nurture a community of artists and musicians that find value in your creation is rather inspiring. its almost cult-like.
its hard now in the age of SAMPLES, TRIGGERS, AUTO-TUNE and various PRO TOOLS-related wizardry being a part of MUSIC PRODUCTION, both live and recorded in nearly every genre, to think back and realize how transgressive the MODULAR SYNTHESIZER was upon its creation. ROBERT MOOG talks about how people were angry at him personally, feeling as though he was ruining modern music. back then, and seemingly there is still is with an older segment of today's population (cough, cough, BOOMERS, cough), a decided bias against music that is not created utilizing a string-based, percussive or woodwind instrument. SWITCHED ON BACH (COLUMBIA, 1968) by WENDY CARLOS certainly showcased the musicality of MODULAR SYNTHESIZERS to a wider popular audience, but for some holdouts synths are seen as a fake and non-musical.
i think from watching this documentary, you really get the sense of the personal, human touch ROBERT MOOG brought to his instruments, in part by allowing his community of artists and musicians to provide him with feedback that shaped further models that were more compact with an ever expansive array of features. in many ways this documentary is as much about that community as it is about his analog circuits and their technical wizardry. musicians featured throughout include KEITH EMERSON, BERNIE WORELL (PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC), DJ LOGIC, MIX MASTER MIKE (BEASTIE BOYS), DJ SPOOKY, MONEY MARK (BEASTIE BOYS), JEAN-JACQUES PERREY, PAMELIA KURSTIN, RICK WAKEMAN (YES) and WALTER EDMOND SEAR among others.
obviously he was on to something because we are no in his world. there is no delineation anymore between the ORGANIC and INORGANIC sounds, its all blended.