IIn the teeming and highly diverse cinematic habitat of music documentaries, there is surprisingly little about the electronic dance music phylum and its many subclasses, orders, and colorful creatures. There are: films about scenes like the rave movement of the late 80s/early 90s or specific clubs like Sub Berlin: History of Tresor. There are others about specific superstar DJs such as Leave the World Behind, a tribute to the Swedish House Mafia, or Villalobos, a hypnotic, arthouse portrait of Ricardo Villalobos. This docu-tribute to French-born DJ-composer Laurent Garnier tonally falls somewhere between the latter two. It offers fairly uncritical praise for Garnier’s artistry and is built around lengthy interviews with the man himself, which is admittedly very articulate and informative; but there is also a very interesting historical-anthropological tension in the film which traces the rise of house, rave and techno from the 1980s.

Garnier was there in the middle of a lot of it, or as middle as you can be in an international movement that started, depending on how you look at it, in a number of places at the same time, then spread like a virus. Trained to be a silver service waiter, Garnier first worked at the French Embassy in London where he would slip away in the evenings to club at events organized by Leigh Bowery and visit the Haçienda in Manchester. Forced to do his national service in France, he began moonlighting as a DJ at key venues such as the Rex Club in Paris, then built up a massive international clientele.

In truth, there are too many squeaky montages of spinning Garnier records and dancing DJs to entertain sweaty hordes in places the on-screen text identifies as Tokyo, Moscow or other music festivals around the world. . We get it, people love it. But he also comes across as reasonably generous to other artists and spends a lot of screen time with the likes of techno pioneer Derrick May, seen driving Garnier to Detroit, and Ed Banger Records founder Pedro Winter. which has many interesting things. things to say about the scene and its evolution.

Some might complain that a bit more about the background of the music itself would have been welcome, other than just commenting on the centrality of the Roland 990 synthesizer to so many records; but perhaps no movie on this subject will cover everything that everyone is interested in.

Laurent Garnier: Off the Record will be released in theaters on July 15.


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