The Synergy! The Ecstasy! The Biology! 

The Synergy! The Ecstasy! The Biology! 
Posted by FoM on May 26, 2000 at 06:24:08 PT
Film Review By Stephen Holden
Source: New York Times
Those of us who lived through the headiest days of the 60's counterculture, when pie-in-the-sky hippie gurus were popping up like daisies in July, should feel more than a twinge of déjà vu watching Jon Reiss's impassioned documentary film "Better Living Through Circuitry." 
An enthusiastic exploration of today's rave culture and the beat-driven electronic music that fuels it, the movie is packed with upbeat pronouncements by flush-faced techno-wizards and partygoers extolling the transformational power of these all-night dance parties. Usually held in nontraditional party spaces (abandoned warehouses and outdoor desert settings are favorite sites), these events, programmed by visionary disc jockeys and lighting designers, synergize electronic music, psychedelic décor and drugs (usually Ecstasy) to send partygoers into a communal ecstatic state. Some rave parties are attended by thousands who may drive hundreds of miles to surrender to the beat. The biggest difference between the 60's proselytizers for transcendence through rock 'n' roll, LSD and free love and the most ardent champions of the rave culture is that the claims made for rave are a little less grandiose, a little more scientific and not as erotically oriented. Instead of describing mystical leaps of faith, the proponents of rave, like mental-health professionals in the age of Prozac, cite biological data to support their claims for the power of the events to alter consciousness. One theorist, who goes by the name BT, offers a physiological explanation of the joys of rave in which the disc jockey is a combination electrical engineer, neurologist and artistic magician wielding aural and visual stimulae whose effect on human brain waves can be measured. When the chemistry is optimal at a rave event, he says, the synergy of elements produces the same collective trances that primitive shamans were able to conjure with sustained drumming and dancing. The most charismatic people interviewed in a movie that has more than its share of charming oddballs speak like hippie pied pipers armed with technological know-how and the intimidating vocabulary that comes with it. We meet Roni Size, a flamboyantly attired Briton who was an architect of "acid house," the ritual trance music whose birth he traces to the summer of 1986. He compares the creation of this electronic music to the punk aesthetic of the late 70's, when musicians rebelling against the glossy, expensive sound of corporate rock took back the means of pop music production. Rave D.J.'s and sound engineers, he gushes, are going much further by "seizing the means of perception." A New York disc jockey, DJ Spooky, whose technique involves "continuous sampling," calls his reconfiguring of the musical past "ancestor worship" and says that disc jockeys like himself are writers improvising aural streams of consciousness. An itinerant disc jockey who calls himself Scanner describes going from city to city "like a traveling salesman," with his silver case of gadgetry that includes a short-wave radio, a DiscMan, a DAT machine and a theremin. A high point of the movie is a concert performance by the acclaimed disc jockey, musician and producer Moby, who has taken the music about as far above ground as anybody. So many ideas, such invention, so much optimism: "Better Living Through Circuitry" gives you the same kind of sky's-the-limit buzz that you could feel at a Timothy Leary event in the 60's, when that high priest of acid promised male audience members that by ingesting LSD they could have every woman in the world they wanted (in fantasy, of course). Unlike the 60's acid messiahs, "Better Living Through Circuitry" treads gingerly over the drug issue. But while carefully covering its tracks by referring to deaths from overdoses and toxic chemical combinations, the movie is essentially pro-Ecstasy. No matter how much the D.J.'s may claim that their electronic sounds produce the euphoria of a good rave, the movie clearly implies that Ecstasy is the key that unlocks it all. Better Living Through Circuitry:Directed by Jon Reiss; written by Mr. Reiss, Stuart Swezey and Brian McNelis; directors of photography, Mr. Reiss, Steven Janas, Byron Shah, Michael Bartowski, Lee Abbot, Joe Plonsky and John Preibe; edited by Erix Zimmerman; produced by Mr. McNelis and Mr. Swezey; released by Seventh Art Releasing. At the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 92 minutes. This film is not rated. WITH: The Crystal Method, DJ Spooky, Genesis P'Orridge of Psychic TV, Electric Skychurch, Carl Cox, Moby, Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk, Superstar DJ Keoki, Frankie Bones, Jack Dangers/Meat Beat Manifesto, Atomic Babies, Scanner, Pure Children, Roni Size and Reprazent, and BT. Video: • Trailer From the Film 'Better Living Through Circuitry' May 26, 2000Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company CannabisNews View Next 20 Articles:
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