Somebody has uploaded what by many is considered the best techno documentary ever, Speaking in Code (2009), to YouTube. It’s narrated in German, but that shouldn’t be a problem for any Dutch or German speaking native (sorry if you’re not). The documentary won a couple of independent film festival prizes, so it’s more than just an insiders-only movie.
The film follows a couple of people, dj/producers as well as music lovers, in the European and American techno scenes as it existed a couple of years ago.
Speaking in Code is an account of people who are lost in music. Director Amy Grill follows a series of characters (including her techno-obsessed husband) over a number of years as some struggle to make it while others thrive in the world of electronic music.
The film reveals six intertwined character studies and raw vérité views of new music. It’s a window into a world filled with warehouse parties, endless gigs, international travel, risks, inventions, triumphs and breakdowns.
The characters are: Modeselektor, a producer duo, jettisoned from playing a tiny room in the US to playing to 20,000 people at the Sónar festival in Barcelona; journalist Philip Sherburne, who leaves America to find a more complete techno lifestyle in Europe; The Wighnomy Brothers, catapulted from their idyllic world in Jena, Germany to face their breaking point on camera; Tobias Thomas of Kompakt, who contemplates the near-end of his career; and Monolake, an inventor of the Ableton software that nearly all electronic musicians use to create their music, who continues his steady yet quirky approach to a life in music. While back in the US, David Day (Grill’s husband) tries tirelessly to turn Boston from a rock-centric town to a techno city. Day’s wanton attempts to make electronic music popular put strain on his marriage to the director.
And the soundtrack, I must say, is brilliant. If you got time, check this out: