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4 out of 5 stars
Modulations: Cinema for the Ear
Format: DVDChange
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This video isn't perfect but it's the best so far in covering the entire spectrum of electronic dance music. It goes so far as to actually showing the Roland keyboard factory! There's multiple interviews with legendary pioneers from decades ago along with today's new artists. There's coverage of Love Parade in Berlin and various other raves. Just about every style of dance music is represented. Drum and Bass and House probably got the most attention. It breaks down to the smallest components of electronic music and how artists get and arrange samples. It's a great introduction to electronic music for those who don't quite understand it yet and a great history lesson to those of use who already love it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2003
Format: DVD
"Modulations" is a very fast-paced documentary about the past, present, and future of electronic music. Because it is so condensed, lacks narrative voice-over, and features so many people, you'll be able to watch this one again and again and always discover something new.
Please do look past the very cheesy cover--it doesn't do justice to what's on the DVD. While rave and commerical acts like Fatboy Slim do get covered, you'll also find great footage of Pierre Henry, Genesis P. Orridge, and Giorgio Moroder (how often do you get to put those three names in a single sentence?).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
anyone who is interested in electronic music needs to see this movie! even if your not into electronic music, after seeing this movie you will be! its got everyone : john cage, stockhausen, juan atkins, roni size, spooky, derrick may, panacea, prodigy, moby, mix master mike the list goes on and on and on
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie (or documentary or whatever you want to call it) in the theater when it first came out and enjoyed it thoroughly. Not only did I learn some new things about the history and origins of electronic music, but laughed my ass off at some of the intervies with the drugged out derelicts that pepper the electronica landscape. Some of the more notable interviews with FSOL (who hardly ever appear in anything anymore) and some of the German jungle musicians were absolutely hysterical. There were also really good interviews with many of the origional Detroit hardhouse gurus. I'm not even mentioning DJ Spooky, Joey Beltram and a host of other great musicians - there were quite a few - too many to remember. My only complaint about the film is that it was rather short - I think just over one hour. Nonetheless, it was worth buying in my humble opinion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
As a self-proclaimed electronica freak I must recommend this one to not only those interested in electronic music, but also to anyone interested in opening their mind to the possibilities of NOISE. However, this film left me wanting more background on the use of music (specifically electronic) in its relationships to manipulating the senses.....and its correlations to design, be it spatial, physical or virtual......however, this is a must see.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Think you might enjoy Iara Lee's slick look at this modern culture?Quick edits dominates this movie to show the fast rise of electronic music.
Hence the increase difficulty for the listener to catch up with some portions...Therefore the work does not contain enough detail to be educationnal.The sound bites are so small that nothing really sinks in.(Check out the Orbital sequence where Lee foolishly cuts«Chime»as the loop ain't finished!!)Why isn't there any chronological order?Sometimes we are too confused, Lee tries to tell us too many things at once; why is there an Autechre track on the D N'b segment??
A few too many headz are missing:Richard D James,Wendy Carlos(after all she is a pioneer of the Moog),Jeff Mills,Richie Hawtin,Brian Eno and Alex Patterson(aka The Orb).There a way too many house headz:DJ Funk and Paul Johnson?They could've been replaced by IDM's M-Ziq and Speedy J or Industrial types like Front 242 or Richard H Kirk.
But there are some real strenghts too.For instance,the whole historical research is quite diverse and knowledgeable.Pierre Henry,Karlheinz Stockhausen are pertinent.Especially two segments are astonishing;the jungle and ambient ones,where the images embodies the music well.The clips are quick and exciting.Other strong parts includes:FSOL,Can,Scanner,Squarepusher and GenessisPOrridge who is a fun character.Track listing is great too.
Regardless of few weaknesses,this movie goes full throttle all the way.It is going to be taken as a whole as the clear milestone in documenting electronic music.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
(Sorry about that header.) Ambitious and mostly successful overview of the roots and branches in the modern electronic music scene. The film covers quite a bit in just over an hour. The use of "sound bite"-length artist interviews seems to irk some reviewers; I think they are failing to savor the irony that this is just the cinematic equivalent of "sampling", after all. As in any similar collection of interviews, artist comments range from the banal to the revelatory, but the director gets credit for not allowing any concept to become too redundant. This film edges out the very similar documentary "Better Living Through Circuitry", by thankfully not inserting so many tiresome, epileptic seizure-inducing scenes of people "raving". Highly recommended for genre fans.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
MODULATIONS is a great look at the history of electronic based music and techno and is the perfect companion to BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY a film about rave culture currently making the festival rounds. Between these two films anyone can get a complete understanding of this exciting and evolving music and lifestyle.
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Format: DVD
This DVD was part of a collection of media chronicling the electronica genre of music, which included a soundtrack CD (Modulations: Cinema for the Ear (Original Soundtrack)) and a book (Modulations: A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words on Sound). With all items together you get a pretty good history of the origins of electronic music as well as the various sub-genres that popped up during the 90's. The DVD alone is a worthwhile documentary with lots of interviews and details; even though it doesn't provide the full picture.

The documentary is LOADED with content. Tons of interviews as well. If you were in the 90's EDM scene at all you will find at least a couple of artists featured on this film. Here is a list of just the artists I know about that were on the documentary (* next to the interviews):

Afrika Bambaattaa*
Coldcut
Robert Moog* (Okay not an artist, but the biggest name in synthesizers)
Hardfloor
Moby*
Throbbing Gristle*
Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto)*
Orbital
DJ Spooky*
Westbam*
Photek
Armen Van Heldon
The Prodigy*
DJ Sasha
Future Sound of London*

That's just the artists I recognize, and it's only a fraction of the content. You get interviews with pioneers of various electronic music sub-genres. You get to hear the history and origins of subgenres like Detriot Techno, House, Gabber, Acid House and Jungle. You get observations on subgenres like ambient and DJ turntable skills. You get observations of the rave scene in comparison with the disco era and the drug counterculture. You hear about the influences of artists like Kraftwerk, John Cage, Donna Summer and more. There is a lot to soak in.

With the full load of information you also get a bit of chaos. The documentary is not organized in any recognizable fashion. It doesn't go through the history in any chronological order, and when it does talk history is scattered about the length of the documentary. Same goes for discussions on genres, recording techniques, musical influences, technology and so on. All of it is just unceremoniously tossed in a mixed salad kind of way. It's not bad in such a way where the documentary is hard to follow. Quite the opposite. Still if you are used to your documentaries having some sort of structure to it you may get put off by the somewhat frazzled form of presentation.

Modulations isn't the perfect electronica documentary, but it is definitely up there among the best. It's format can feel flustered at times, but at the same time it fits with the feel of the footage. If you have any interest in electronic music of any sort this is a good documentary to watch.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I am a big fan of this movie. Many reviewers are knocking the Dj's and people in the film, 'for trying to be philisophical'. If you are a fan of Electronic Music, and know that it is not all TECHNO, then you will enjoy this film. It is a nice way of helping people to understand where this form of music comes from.

For me it was nice to see the origins of some type of music, because while I am not a fan of Techno, I am a fan of Breakbeat and House Music. I do like Drum and Bass, but I am not a fan of 'Drill and Bass" or Hard House. It's all preferences.

Anyway, I believe that owning this movie is like owning an abbreviated encyclopedia of Electronic Music. It's a necessary addition to your electronic music collection. If you have any music intrest.. it will help you to appreciate this form of it, that much more.
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