Behind the synthesized music
A PhD in engineering physics who began building theremins with his father as a teenager, Bob Moog is a mostly unsung figure in recent music history.
Director Hans Fjellestad’s documentary “Moog” aims to change that and will undoubtedly strike a chord with fans as they recognize the omnipresence of the Moog electronic synthesizer over 40 years of music. The film features interviews with colleagues and musicians, covering the wide variety of genres, including rock, jazz, funk and classical, the phenomenon has influenced.
A boon to some, a scourge to others, the synthesizer -- which can now emulate any noise imaginable in addition to emitting its own spacey sounds -- is controversial for allowing musicians to vastly expand their sonic reach while arguably putting others out of work. Moog himself questions the decision to attach a keyboard to the instrument, which encouraged musicians to use it for melodic purposes rather than the experimental sounds that avant-garde and academic composers made when it first appeared in 1964.
A big thinker in every sense, Moog expounds on a wide variety of subjects related to music, creativity and an almost spiritual interaction with his innovation, making him a complex and amiable subject. Fjellestad exhibits a playful adoration for the man and the otherworldly sounds of his machine in an intriguing rendering of one of music technology’s seminal figures.
“Moog,” unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Exclusively at Laemmle’s Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 655-4010.