When I heard that the film Modulations was coming to the town that I live it, I was stoked. I'd read quite a bit about it as a documentary on electronic music, and wondered how much I could learn from it, and well as how many of my favorite artists it would show. After seeing the film I can say that I really enjoyed it, but I felt that it was a little more style over substance that I had hoped for. Instead of showing more interviews with artists that I enjoyed, there was simply too much footage of people dancing and wild, stylish camera shots that were simply there to look nice on celluloid. Don't get me wrong, it worked well as a 90 minute music video, but in the end, I wish that there would have been more in-depth conversation with the artists (but perhaps I'm just an electronic music nerd).
Anyway, one of the great things about the film is that they had tons of different music in it. Not just electronic music from the 80's, either. Instead, they had bits from the very early pioneers, including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Leon Theremin, and Robert Moog. Some of the discussions with the very early experimenters in the genre was the most interesting thing about the film. Given only one album to try to capture the sound of the movie, I think that there could have been a better job capturing a wider frame of sound. As it is, the songs on the disc only cover about 20 years of music, and many different styles still aren't represented. I can't whine about everything, though, and there are some winners.
The disc starts out with the disco sounds of Donna Summer before going into the super-classic "Planet Rock" by electro pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. Although it lingers on a bit too long, it's amazing to listen to the track knowing that it was done clear back in 1982. From there, the disc delves into more classics, with tracks by Juan Atkins, LFO, Derrick May, and Jesse Saunders before jumping ahead several years. The second half of the disc is mainly dominated by newer artists, and it shows off much more variety in terms of sub-genres of the music. Aphrodite turns in the big-beat "Amazon 2-King Of The Beats," while Panacea rips out a feedback-ridden jungle track before Goldie and Rob Playford turn in a less brutal jungle track "The Shadow."
From there, things change up even more fortunately, with the super-minimal tonal track of Ryoji Ikeda before going into the already classic "Atomic Moog 2000" by Coldcut. Closing things out is "Kritsche Masse 1" by the up-and-coming To Rococo Rot. Overall, it's a good sampling, but it would have been nice if they would have stretched it into a 2 or even 3CD collection that spanned both a larger timeframe and more styles. Still, I'll admit the difficulty in covering such an expansive genre and simply say that like the film, I was left wanting more. Part 2, anyone?