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Fuzz: The Sound that Revolutionized the World (2007)

Video  |   |  Documentary  |  20 November 2007 (USA)
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Title: Fuzz: The Sound that Revolutionized the World (Video 2007)

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Credited cast:
Oliver Ackermann ...
Marc Ahlfs ...
Himself (as Marc Alps)
Steve Albini ...
Craig Anderton ...
Tony Bateman ...
Gary Burke ...
Paul Cochrane ...
Matt Conboy ...
Jon Cusack ...
Dan Druff ...
Dean Farley ...
Elwood Francis ...
Teddy Gordan ...


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The Sound That Revolutionized the World





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20 November 2007 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Depressing, yet Fascinating
24 January 2013 | by (Japan) – See all my reviews

I'm surprised that there aren't more reviews of this movie as, though it's certainly a low- budget/amateur production, it rarely fails to be interesting.

Ostensibly about fuzz pedals - the rectangular electronic boxes guitarists use to add "fuzz" (a distorted tone) to their sound, it quickly reveals itself as a socio-cultural study. The viewer might be expecting simply a basic explanation of the fuzzbox and interviews with popular guitarists interspersed with a history of the device (popularized by Hendrix, etc.). However, this film has deeper ambitions as it examines the motivations not only of those attracted to these tools, but also the inspirations and character of the creators of the devices.

It is these designers that are the focus of the film. The virtual flip side of the "cool", popular guitarist with a strong image on stage, this crew is a decidedly uncool misfit group of gearhead geeks and hippie/drug burnouts. The well-known guitarists that are interviewed are much closer in character to the effects designers than movie stars: Dinosaur Jr.s J. Mascis displays his Fuzzbox collection sitting unused in his closet, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons entertains with tales of chaining effects together, and Shellac's Steve Albini is a major electronics nut himself, known for running a studio and collecting obscure microphones (to be fair, however, Albini appears to be one of the few electronics people who actually considers music/sound when utilizing electronics - the film shows many boutique pedal designers are simply operating using a hit or miss, I'll-try-anything- once method).

In the end, no-one is spared. Many pedal purchasers are shown to be either crass manipulators, buying a "boutique" (homemade by one or two people) pedal solely with the purpose of reselling it for 300%+ on ebay or poor players looking for a magic fix to their crappy playing. The guitarists reveal their basement/boy roots, geeking out over the effects box art, transistors used within, or even the knobs. The effects box creator guys - and they are all guys, basically - don't appear to be motivated by either money or fame. It's unclear if some of the cloners (those who copy the schematics of popular devices) are even musicians or know about how electronics affect sound themselves. They reveal too much about what the effect means to them simply by naming them: Electric Mistress. Fuzz. Box. Screamer. Etc. Albini displays some of the attitude that may have enabled him to rise above these roots when he is asked about one particularly rare pedal: "Oh, I'd miss it if it were lost, but I wouldn't miss it as much as, say, my penis".

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