THE SOUND IS INNOCENT

★★★

PROCESSING ELECTRONIC MUSIC

REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: COUCHED REVIEW
By Jake Watt
16th July 2020

I always found it funny when Eminem "dissed" Moby in a track saying "No one listens to techno", like rap wasn't already mining electronica-style production for everything it was worth.

Even if you don't listen to electronic music, every record you've ever heard is electronic music. The truth of this sophism is deepening as electronic instruments and idioms overtake every genre. Euro-pop broken chords twist through country radio. Modular drones whir through folk. Synth rock (see: 'The Rise of the Synths'), once a subgenre, could now also be categorised as "popular rock". It's getting weird to isolate a swath of music as "electronic", an anachronism for the future.

'THE SOUND IS INNOCENT' TRAILER

Johana Ožvold digs into the origins of electronic music in her documentary 'The Sound is Innocent'. The film features some of the biggest brains in the field, including dubstep producer Kode9, electroacoustic composer Kassel Jaeger, self-professed "techno sceptic" John Richards and professor of music informatics and media theory Julian Rohrhuber, who informs us that "code is like poetry, like mathematics".

Spit into five chapters, 'The Sound is Innocent' uses voiceovers, talking heads and the kind of dramatic experiments you might find in a sci-fi film (a voice appears from old television screens forgotten in the maze of some futuristic museum or archive) to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between man and music. It also looks at some of the most notable events within the genre's history: from the pioneer sound engineers in the U.S.S.R post-World War II, through to the post-modern creators of digital sonic entities.

The film features some of the biggest brains in the field, including dubstep producer Kode9, electroacoustic composer Kassel Jaeger, self-professed "techno sceptic" John Richards and professor of music informatics and media theory Julian Rohrhuber.

Assembled in a dreamy and unusual way, the style has the effect of drawing the viewer in, so even if you have limited interest in this area, it's still fascinating as Ožvold plays affectionately with the audience and spins the story out.

Electronic music can be minimalist or towering, hermetic or porous. It can be made of other music or made only of itself, of electricity shaped into waves. It can be staggeringly soulful or mystically severe. It can be for the body, the head, the heart, or all three. It can shift our sense of space-time or just slap. Whatever it is, the genre that purists once called homogeneous now offers unparalleled variety. As Ožvold's 'The Sound is Innocent' attests, electronic music infinitely extends the acoustic without uprooting it. It's the sound of our world discovering, not remembering, itself.

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