What the Eye Doesn't See, the Heart Doesn't Mind.
May 28, 2011 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Step Across the Border (previously, link now broken) "as long as I was playing in a band I didn't have to actually go out there and talk to girls and dance, I could just be on stage and watch everybody else doing it". The critically acclaimed music documentary on Fred Frith, written and directed by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel (amazon link). It is also available in 8 parts, on youtube.

The music is beautiful, ugly, sublime, silly, virtuosic and clumsy, catchy and difficult.

Follow Fred Frith around the world as he makes music with his friends, and finds
other things to listen to as well.


Many of the musicians in this film are worth hours of listening on their own.
Fred Frith
Joey Baron
Cyro Baptista
Iva Bittová
Tom Cora
Pavel Fajt
Eitetsu Hayashi
Tim Hodgkinson
Arto Lindsay
Kevin Norton
Bob Ostertag (much of his music, including some of his collaborations with Frith, are creative commons licensed downloads on his site).
John Zorn
posted by idiopath (11 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this; I have the associated CD but have never seen the movie. Frith has always been an inspiration to me, someone who is completely dedicated to music in whatever form it may take. For anyone who hasn't discovered him yet, Gravity is a good way to dip a toe into the (very deep) waters.
posted by dfan at 6:14 PM on May 28, 2011

This is one of the most inspirational and joyful films I've ever, ever seen.
posted by treepour at 6:29 PM on May 28, 2011

I ♥ Fred Frith. It was almost surreal when I moved to San Francisco started seeing him in the audience (much less performing!) at concerts; like—he's just sitting over there! Fred fucking Frith!
posted by kenko at 6:31 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Henry Cow's "Western Culture" was one of those albums that hit me at just the right time, priming my sensibilities for everything from Can, Slapp Happy, Art Bears, Zappa, and Beefheart to Coltrane, Mingus, and Ornette Coleman.

I didn't know this documentary existed! Cool. Off to watch it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:47 PM on May 28, 2011

It is truly a wonderful film. Film portraits of musicians that really convey a love for the music and that themselves have a genuine sort of musicality are rare indeed.

Some of you may be interested to know that one half of the two-man team that directed the movie now resides in Japan. His name is Werner Penzel. He and his artist/photographer wife Ayako Mogi live in a former elementary school, nestled into a hillside on the beautiful island of Awajishima, near Kobe. After the March 11 quake and nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Werner and Ayako sent out a mass mailing to their friends in Japan, saying that anyone with children who might like to get them further away from the radiation-spewing nuke would be welcome to come to their place. That mail wound up in my friend Haco's* inbox, and she forwarded it to me, and I brought my family there. The former school's classrooms became a temporary home for a number of families, mostly from Tokyo. My wife and daughter and I were there for a little over two weeks. The warmth and easy hospitality that Werner and Ayako showed all of us was really outstanding, and in the space of time that we were there, they became our good friends. While there, I also recorded quite a bit of music, as the beauty of the surroundings and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere were very conducive to such pursuits. Some of what I did there can be heard here, folks, at Metafilter Music.

The former school is now called Nomadomura, and in addition to serving as living and working space for the Penzel/Mogi team, it's also a cafe, which they open on weekends. Anyone passing through the area is urged to stop by for a tasty meal and a coffee.

*Haco, by the way, also appears in the film, in one of the Japan sequences. She is a fine singer and multi-instrumentalist who I've had the pleasure of working with several times over the years.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Aaaaand, seconds after posting the above comment, I noticed that you already included links to Haco in the FPP, idiopath! Sorry to be redundant.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 PM on May 28, 2011

Also note: Penzel and partner Nicolas Humbert have created another musician film, this time featuring saxophonist Yusef Lateef. It's called Brother Yusef.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:53 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

flapjax's friend Haco?! Damn, flapjax.
posted by kenko at 9:23 PM on May 28, 2011

Wow. Like dfan above I have had the CD for a while but never seen this before, so thank you for posting!
Some of Frith's violin bits in part four immediately brought Henry Flynt to mind. That may just be because I am ignorant and don't know much about violinists plying these far out waters...
posted by zoinks at 11:25 PM on May 28, 2011

Very lyrical and fun to watch, and Frith's obvious glee is infectious, plus his techniques, although weird, never fail to produce really listenable results. I found myself really taken by the beauty of the song that Frith was improvising by dropping breakfast cereal on an electric guitar.
posted by chaff at 7:35 PM on May 29, 2011

his techniques, although weird, never fail to produce really listenable results.

Very true. For my money, Frith is one of the very best improvisors around.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:04 PM on May 29, 2011

« Older My God, it's full of galaxies   |   Research Blogging Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments