SxSW 2015: 24 Beats Per Second

All Things Must PassI already talked about several docs and the features I took in, no it is time for the music docs to take the stage. From the obscure and the hidden, the backbone of the beat, to the rise and fall of an empire and the rise of a movement, let’s take a look at what you need to keep an eye out for in the coming months. I am hoping a few will make it to the Alamo Drafthouse so you can hear them as much as see them. All hail crowd-funding.

Click past the break for the rundown.

Let’s start with the beginning.

808: This was the first doc I saw. After registration and hanging out at Converse Rubber Tracks, I made my way to the Alamo South Lamar to see this doc on the venerable 808 drum machine. From it’s unlikely inventor to the unlikely rise to stardom in so many different genres, the 808 has been behind, whether directly or sampled, the best beats in the world. Goldie is the bomb in this, too many hilarious quotes to remember just one. Phil Collins explains why a drummer loves the 808. The remaining Beasties wax poetic about “Paul Revere”, comically debating the methods that Adam Yauch implemented to get that beat. The doc even explains the unlikely origins of the distinct 808 sound. I can’t and won’t ruin any of the story arc for you, but if you are a fan of electronica, hip-hop, electro, Genesis or “the boom”, just go see it ASAP. Sorry, no pics of Q&A, had to get to the next flick.

Breaking A Monster: While many in attendance took this as a documentary on Unlocking The Truth, the unlikely story of three unlikely kids from New York that are metal heads through and through, it was actually a very telling profile of the ugly nature of the record business these days. Seeing the rise to fame via Youtube clips, picking up where an entry in last year’s doc shorts film fest left off, we see the pre-teens as they talk about rising fame rather candidly and deal with family and affairs of the heart while appeasing demands of management and a (big money) record label when all they really want to do is play GTA or skate. They are still “kids”, let them play. The Q&A had the boys from the band drop hints that another lawsuit is underway to free the band of the deal they signed in the movie. Seems they really want to be their own men. …when they grow up.

The Theory of Obscurity: Are you a fan of The Residents? Just go see it. Otherwise, the doc is a charming story of how you could at one time in the past, be anonymous and free to create. Restored film footage, input from Penn Gillette, Talking Heads, Devo and many more help Director Don Hardy Jr. paint a picture of a quiet influence and a place in the world worthy of envy.

All Things Must Pass: This is the story of Tower Records. Director Colin Hanks links his childhood as a record nerd and Sacramento resident, a retelling of the story of Tower Records that has been many years in the making. It is touching story of family, trust, loyalty and hubris. There are so many great photos and behind the scenes material from the Tower family – the balls of the staff to expense Handtruck Fuel <- you can make guesses, it'll be funny when you get to it. Mr. Solomon is a good man that was loyal to a fault. Colin did an amazing job with solid interview gets from all over the industry including Sir Elton John and Bruce Springsteen and I hope he continues working in the music doc genre. FWIW, Colin started the Q&A with declaring that SxSW is the only place they could premiere the movie. Agreed. Landfill Harmonic: This is the story Favio Chávez’s mission to get music into the Cateura, the community attached to hte landfill for Asuncion, Paraguay. Favio came to the area to implement recycling efforts, since failed, but found new purpose realizing there was talent for music in the Cateura. Meeting Don Cola, a landfill worker that could create anything from junk, Favio had a means to get what would be far too expensive instruments into the hands of the kids that wanted to learn (or were volunteered by their parents). From their, the orchestra goes viral, befriending unlikely advocates in Megadeth. You see the struggles of their community while the orchestra gets to travel the world. There is so much pride. Beautiful story and the audience was treated to a few songs from a few of the orchestra’s kids that were in the doc, a special moment for all in attendance.

I have to give it up to SxSW Film’s programming. This year, so good. Well played!

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