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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Rock > Electronic > Moog (2004 Music Documentary)

Moog (Music Documentary)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Film: B+



It has been a short time since the passing of the great Doctor Robert A. Moog, but he did live to see Hans Fjellestad’s amazing documentary Moog (2004) finished and the tight, loaded 70 minutes shows how a man whose ideas about music were considered temporary and odd became the future of the artform in so many ways.  Beginning with a montage of a circuit board and voice over by Mr. Moog himself, how he initially approached doing electronic music, showing the man at the end.  This moves into animated titles and the story begins.


In the early years, the sounds his machines produced were considered futuristic, which only very recently (thanks to Hip Hop, sampling, DJs, turntablists, mixers and New Wave) the world caught up with.  Early on, it was Progressive Rock bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes who picks up their possibilities, while Stanley Kubrick was one of the first filmmakers to do so with Walter (Wendy) Carlos on his 1971 landmark A Clockwork Orange.  Carlos’ album Switched On Bach (1968) was the first major long-form work to prove that electronic sound music was not just something for the fringes of other compositions to decorate or sex them up.  With cell phones having endless ring tones in this mode, it can be easy to forget just how much of an impact Moog and the synthesizer that bares his name has had worldwide since the 1970s.  Only the rise of the PC can compare and Moogs even foreran them.


He takes the time to explain the functions of his monumental invention in a way that everyone can understand, then we get interviews with some of the most talented musicians in the business, including Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, plus music performances surface later throughout all the way to great acts like Stereolab.  The history and the rare film clips alone are enough to keep you watching, but director Fjellestad (for lack of a better word) synthesizes together an amazing portrait of the man first, then his work and influence afterwards.  Of course, it is great when a really good man at heart does great things and these types of stories are always terrific.  It makes sense that someone who knows who they are could be so creative and important without pretense or even hate.  The more you watch Moog, the more you love it.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a compilation of film, videotape and stills that is better than usual for a documentary, looking clean and clear.  This is well-edited material by the director and is always interesting throughout on a visual level thanks to solid cinematography by Elia Lyssy.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has very healthy Pro Logic surrounds and though some audio is originally mono, great care has been taken to clean and refine every piece of sound so vital to a key work about music.  Extras include a trailer for the film, DVD-ROM feature to use authentic Moog software, eight excellent deleted scenes that should have stayed in the film, three additional electronic performances, director’s “notes” really representing select audio commentary with video and a terrific commercial for the Schaefer Beer brand that was one of the first to use the Moog so explicitly, as played here by Edd Kalehoff.  Oddly, it is letterboxed at 1.78 X 1, making one wonder if this might have played in some theatrical film outlets of the time.  Moog is yet another outstanding DVD from Plexifilm.  Visit www.Plexifilm.com for more detail about this and other great Plexifilm releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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