Speaking in Code

The film’s subtitle Everything Changes When You Get Lost in Music pretty much says it all. Speaking in Code is a new film about the electronic music scene by Amy Grill which was an official selection at CMJ09, the SF Documentary Film Fest and Boston’s Independent Film Fest. The 98-minute long piece was edited down from over 200 hours of footage. This labor of love really captures the quieter, more personal sides of a techno scene that includes underground rave festivals for those in the know and humongous concert parties for crowds of 10K+. Grill started to create something of a documentary that would follow her husband, David Day, a soft-spoken yet seemingly energy-lossless music promoter/fan/dj/writer, etc. But over the few years they pieced this film together, they rocketed the skylights out on their credit cards and their personal lives took a new focus, becoming forever changed. Anyone who has ever met Day in person knows his passion and commitment to the scene, so its great to see something so personal hit the silver screen. Though what we see here are honest stories about the artists who play noisy/smoky/sweaty shows, their nervousness, families, their connection to community and each other. We also see the battle between a European free-spirited way people connect to the music and an American staunchiness never quite ready to embrace the former days of say Studio 54 for instance. It’s also a far cry from say Synthetic Pleasures or OHM+ for instance. Less about technical wizardry and gadgetry, and more about the real live people contorting behind the knobs + wires. The scenes with Robag Wruhme discussing his tenuous relationship to his girlfriend with whom he’s been away from for several weeks, and former Northwesterner Philip Sherburne‘s reflections of his father who had recently passed are really moving. The film travels with these folks on trains and planes from Montreal to Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin and back to Boston among other places, and is paced to help the viewer decide what life may be like on the road for either a DJ or a music professional following the underground electronic music scene. It’s more than telling to witness the comparison between a packed to the gills Modeselektor show in Cambridge MA for a more crowd of <100 and at Spain's Sonar Festival for 10,000! Having traveled similar paths as Day who is depicted in the film, I know all too well about attending midday festival conferences on through a late night high energy techno concert as it suddenly sees the dawn’s early light at 8AM the next day when you’re having breakfast with several people you don’t know with one bloodshot eye half open. Not too appetizing, but sure makes for a decade of memories! Speaking in Code is now available on DVD. You gotta take a look:

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