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Haack the King of Techno

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Apr 12, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

The story of Bruce Haack is one of the most unusual and inspiring tales to ever enliven the world of popular music. In the 1960s and 1970s Haack set about recording a series of children's albums that bucked the trend for wishy-washy sentimentalism, and instead incorporated some edgy, experimental, and decidedly oddball concepts. The albums were very popular, picking up a cult following amongst adults, as well as the younger audience for which the records were originally aimed. Haack's experimental nature saw him eventually leaving the children's genre behind, and making several albums of his own music, such as HAACKULA and ELECTRIC LUCIFER. This documentary from Philip Anagnos shines a light on Hacck's unique career, illustrating how his forays into the avant-garde proved highly influential over musicians such as Beck, the Beastie Boys, and a plethora of electronic and hip hop based artists. Celebrity testimonials come thick and fast throughout, as does some incredible vintage footage of Haack demonstrating his art on various television shows.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Bruce Haack, Esther Nelson, Ted Pandel, Chris Kachulis, Chris Albertson
  • Directors: Philip Anagnos
  • Writers: Philip Anagnos
  • Producers: Philip Anagnos, Arthur Maturo, Melanie Blythe, Nick Anagnos
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KOCH VISION
  • DVD Release Date: April 12, 2005
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007L86HG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,635 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Haack the King of Techno" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nicholas D. Kent on June 2, 2005
Format: DVD
A facinating hour or so long documentary about electronic music composer Bruce Haack.

What's there is well paced and very cool. I guess their big problem was rarity of Haack footage and there is mention within the film of some sort or rights difficulties and people not talking which I'm sure hampered them (unless that was just an issue in the Tribute album, it's not clear). I'd say there's a little too much emphasis on the Bruce Haack tribute album - though I guess it provides a ready source of ready to use soundbytes.

Perhaps somewhat of an unfortunate a title too. It reminds me about those ad campaigns saying things like "Jean Michel Jarre, the father of Techno" or "Wendy Carlos is THE synthesizer" or whatever nonsense. Minor point of course since the material is well paced and solid.

There's only some short mention in the actual film about technology - something I'm sure frustrates hardcore synthesizer buffs. How innovative was his predominantly self-designed technology? How did it operate? You get plentiful teasers that it indeed was very special but no examinations of it all. Though in the extras section there's a very solid audio-only interview about Electronic music and technology along with some wild Mister Rogers TV footage of it in action.
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Format: DVD
The biographical information here is pretty sparse. There is practically no information here that someone who is aware of Bruce Haack would not already be aware of. The commentary from modern day musicians on Haack's work is pretty far from insightful too - they mostly go on like stoned retards about how "messed up" and "trippy" his kids stuff was. Despite this fact, the film completely omits the fact that Haack had a drug problem himself and that it contributed to the heart failure that caused his death. Perhaps this is because there was too much enthusiasm for drugs from everyone involved here to risk portraying them in a negative light. There is some great archival footage of Bruce Haack's television appearances here, but it is cut short. I would much rather have had a DVD of his complete television work, including the commercials he scored, rather than this fluffy mess.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Haack: The King Of Techno" directed by Philip Anagnos, is another one for the music documentary buffs...

Electronic music pioneer, Bruce Haack, wrote much of his music for children, but the influence of his unconventional, psychedelic sounds can be heard today in everyone from Beck to Money Mark. Aside from his children's albums, he invented and built his own electronic musical instruments, including the "Dermatron", a musical instrument that was controlled by two people completing an electrical current by making physical contact. He also appeared on various TV and radio shows including Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. As well, in the 80s, he caught the attention of Russell Simmons, who worked with him on a rap project.

If ever there was a moment when I thought the filmmaker and the subject matter couldn't be more perfectly matched, it would be now... Equally unconventional is the film's editing, the animation, and the quirky and psychedelic interview backgrounds, which, for any other subject would have driven me nuts, but for a film about Bruce Haack, was perfect. If you're renting or picking this one up, don't look for a chronology of Bruce's life. Instead, expect a mix of psychedelic animation, family photos, assorted friend and band interviews about Bruce's life and influence, and delightful black and white clips of Haack appearing on old Mister Rogers' Neighborhood episodes. The film is informative, just not in the conventional way.

Oh, and as an added bonus for the Tipsy fans out there (myself included), there's a somewhat rare interview with the guys.
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Format: DVD
I had never heard of Bruce Haack before buying this DVD, and purchased it blindly based on the subject matter alone. As a home recording musician myself, I am always open to new and interesting kinds of music, and was completely astonished I had not heard of Bruce Haack before this DVD.

If you have heard of him, this DVD should be a no-brainer. Influential on modern music in so many ways, his contribution is nearly impossible to guage. He pioneered many of the sounds by crafting his intruments from scratch and came up with ideas back in the 50's and the 60's that are still ahead of their time. If you are familar with him, this DVD will let you see the man at work and get to hear from those he worked with.

If you have not heard of him, and even have the remotest interest in making experimental music, or just enjoy finding a lost treasure, you should pick this DVD up as well. At only 70 minutes, the DVD feels all too brief, but what you get from that 70 minutes is far more interesting and valuable than some longer documentaries I have seen recently. The director manages to put together the subject material in an interesting way and the movie never feels dull.

The special features are leaving some to be desired, but does contain a couple radio interviews that otherwise would have been lost. Upon seeing this movie, you want to hear more by this artist, and having a soundtrack included in the special features would have been wonderful, but even as it stands, it is a must own DVD. Even if you don't find experimental music too interesting and prefer top 40 music, see how some of those top 40 artists were influenced. Bruce Haack influenced many musicians while he was alive and has inspired this musician and hopefully will inspire more even after his death.
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