Monday, March 16, 2009

Film Review: As The Technics Spin

The art of hitting the turntables is the subject of the new documentary by producer DJ Rob Swift (of the X-Ecutioners, Ill Insanity, and Mike Patton’s Peeping Tom) and director Eljay Williams in the new film As The Technics Spin. The film looks at the history of the DJ and gives an insiders look into how turntablists put together their routines. The film cuts together great visual montages of DJ’s scratching and performing live with narrative elements featuring Swift discussing the giants of the turntable and how he works.

This documentary differs from some of the others out there because it is a bit more personal focusing mostly on Rob Swift and getting into the mechanics of how specific routines were put together from conception to performance. The film does make a good point in illustrating how turntablists can elevate themselves to the level of musicians and watching footage of Swift scratch onstage with Bob James and his band during the Tokyo Jazz Festival proved the point well. Rob speaks a great deal about his philosophy, development, and the mental preparation it takes to create the work and how he works as an artist. He also gives a glimpse of what it’s like preparing for a battle and how the creative process can be aided from setbacks.

The biggest downside of the film is in the editing as certain points tend to get a bit repetitive at times but the film does do a good job in showing the nuts and bolts of the tables and the work that gets put into them. Sometimes the behind the scenes lingo becomes Latin and the viewer can get a bit lost but if you are interested in the craft it’s valuable knowledge. One great feature is the extras included on the DVD, which show some highly polished performances for television along with some great-varied live material.

The film’s rough style fits the material well and it really gives an interesting look into how much work it takes to produce a great turntable routine. When Swift is in the zone in one of his routines it’s nice to have the insight of how it was put together and what led to each decision. The DJ is never short of passion for his art and in sharing some of his mindset, it gives the audience a very personal account of his work. The film is really perfect for fans of the DJ who want to know more about the process but Swift’s obsessive, unstoppable determination in elevating his craft is something any viewer can relate to.

This review was originally posted on Short & Sweet NYC


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