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The film Moog
is, I'm sorry to report, not so good. Theremin
or even Modulations
it's definitely not. Synthesizer inventor Robert Moog is himself a charming and highly intelligent interview subject, but the film unfortunately consists of him being flown around the globe for on-location tete-a-tetes with Musical Bores of the World. DJ Spooky holds forth with his usual spiel about sampling until it dawns on him that Moog is only feigning attention; he abruptly switches tracks and compliments him for all the analog hiphop beats his work indirectly influenced. Rick Wakeman and Bernie Worrell go on, like bad drunks at a party, about how a synthesizer is like a woman who must be coaxed, made to scream, yadda yadda. The live music depicted in the film is uniformly pretentious and blah: Stereolab, Keith Emerson, Luke Vibert and Jean-Jacques Perrey all manage not to shine. The highest spots involve not the keyboard instrument but the Theremin, which Moog got his start building. Solos by Pamelia Kurstin and Moog himself are beautiful and otherworldly--music from thin air, only two controls (pitch and volume), no moving parts, it's the soul of economy and still inherently futuristic. How did we ever lose track of the concept?