Friday, February 13, 2004

"Lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did.."

For those who have not checked it out, there is an excellent and amusing DVD out there called "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey". I got this from my mother-in-law for Christmas. (Cool, huh?) It chronicles, in part, the life of Leon Theremin, the inventor of the electronic instrument of the same name. Though good, the film is not without it's faults. It skims over things such as his family history, his work with the Russian Government and a lot of other very interesting topics about Leon's life. If you'd like a more in-depth view of his life, I'd suggest reading "Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage" by Albert Glinsky. But it's also chuck full of old footage, including some wonderful performances by the Theremin virtuoso, Clara Rockmore. Those performances make it worth the price of admission right there. That said, I could have perhaps done without the reunion of Leon and Clara at the end, especially since, at his current age, Mr. Theremin seems to be getting a little confused and disoriented.

One of the greatest parts of the movie is the interview with Brian Wilson (who used the theremin in their hit song "Good Vibrations"). It's not really good because of the in-depth information he imparts, but quite the opposite. Imagine putting a camera in front of Brian Wilson, asking about the theremin he used, and just letting him go for 10 minutes with little editing or direction whatsoever. The end result is an almost uncomfortable bit of footage. With no one to stop him, he rambles on about, yes, theremins, but really, just about everything, repeating himself over and over again until finally the camera shuts off and we are given relief. There's always been this fascination with Brian Wilson. On one hand, he's a musical genius, on the other, he's crazy as hell. And I think some part of us likes that. A "normal" musician, well that's like Kenny G. He would never go nuts on a plane or hang out with Manson. Kenny G. will also never have a VH1 "Behind the Music" episode either ;)