So, you fancy yourself an electronica connoisseur and you listen to Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers. Now you think you have a mastery of techno, right? Right!? Modulations will embarrass all of those who bragged to their friends about their knowledge of techno, acid-house, jungle, trip-hop, ambient, or what seems to be an endless list of electro-induced sounds and jargon.
Having listened to my fair share of electronic music over the years, I surely thought I had the styles down and could tell the difference between trip-hop and jungle. How embarrassed I was when I quickly found out otherwise. Now, thanks to Iara Lee and Modulations, her vision turned documentary, at least now I can pretend to be more than a novice, though I have to say that even after a few viewings, I’m still not as suave as I wished I were.
Modulations, or “electronica for dummies” as I’d like to call it, is a documentary, but don’t let that deter you from watching. The time flies by thanks to a masterful editing job by Paula Heredia who must have watched massive amounts of film from what is an amazing accumulation of interviews. What shows Modulations’ true importance is the number of times you’ll want to watch it just to absorb its full-throttle dynamic. You will also want to take notes. Iara does have an accompanying book but it should be re-titled, “Electronica For Dummies”. That way you can remember where house originated or what the jungle is. Modulations will answer all the fundamental questions about electro-life throughout its history, from the beginning of synthetic sounds made by one of electronica’s grand-daddies, John Cage and Robert Moog, to Donna Summer, to Afrika Bambaataa to the likes of Prodigy and Roni Size. Also get a glimpse of ravers and the perspective of a raver and a dj. How many beats-per-second do you need to keep a crowd bumpin’? Better watch to find out.
Modulations is seventy-plus minute electro-orgasm. But don’t worry if you blow too soon; Modulations is on video. You can stop, have a cigarette, and come back for more when you can handle it.
+ charlie craine