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He floated into our world fully-formed, like some ghostly aristocrat...
This is a nice portrait of a unique guitar player with a noisy yet melodic style, whose presence helped define a decade or more of primitive, arty and ambitious rock music.
It relies on first hand accounts by a number of people close to Howard, including Nick Cave, Wim Wenders and Howard himself. Interspersed with waist-up interview shots are clips from various club and festival gigs, and a few still photographs.
They pay special attention to the seeming contrast between Howard's droll sense of humor and the rather tragic melancholy of his music, and to some extent, his countenance.
Like most rock docs, it has a sort of up then down trajectory that traces the subject's rise to prominence and subsequent fall into despair. But Autoluminescent doesn't really dwell on the drugs or the sickness or the failed romances. Instead, it uses them to set up each segment of the artist's musical development, from teenage prodigy to prodigal middle- aged son, returning to form from the brink of irrelevance.
Cave's recollections seem especially affectionate, while rock doc stalwart Henry Rolllins seems typically awestruck by having crossed paths with such a transcendent talent.
You get a good appreciation for the high regard in which Howard's contemporaries held his playing style, despite the difficulties they had maintaining personal connections with the man.
I came away wanting to delve much further into his discography, beyond the Birthday Party stuff which mostly defines his career.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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