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Film Review

PUNK BAND The Movie (Madness Maker Films) [Blu-ray Review]

There’s not much to say when the end credits roll on PUNK BAND, a documentary that follows punk rock group Voices Of Addiction as they implode on tour. If the film is attempting to show the futility of playing live music in today’s economy, then it is an earth-shattering success.

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There’s not much to say when the end credits roll on PUNK BAND, a documentary that follows punk rock band Voices Of Addiction as they implode on tour. If the film is attempting to show the futility of playing live music in today’s economy, then it is an earth-shattering success. The crushing hopelessness of nomadic movement, interspersed with pseudo-rebellious musings, shows a mediocre band playing to handfuls of punks in a rapidly declining American landscape. Grim stuff indeed, and to cap it off, with its abrupt ending it feels like a punch to the gut. It’s also done with a professional level of production and well-managed insert shots from the early 20th century, to superimpose against the modern American landscape. These inserts demonstrate an awareness that times have changed, and the shimmer and glow of early optimism in that century are now grim times indeed, with Trump’s inauguration being the most effective example.

It’s a bleak film, not only due to the content, but from the crushing reality that you are watching a band with so few prospects make their way through the country playing to mostly empty rooms, a reality for most bands that tour today. But, to watch a band that has been doing this for years seems cruel to capture on film, though it’s no wonder as to why they have not gained a following. The band’s musical style is Rise Against worship, with enough ska and ham fisted lyrics to convey a truly high school aesthetic.

This is the PUNK BAND official trailer. Watch it!


While what’s missing from the music is a form of self-awareness, what is missing from the film is a proper analysis of the events that just unfurled, to show us the significance of why it all matters. While the group finishes on the road, very little is shown to demonstrate how the band actually affected the members following its dissolution, apart from Vinnie, who appears genuinely lost at finding his only exit strategy to get out of the small town that he hates disappear. The only truly captivating character is a gay punk in their travels who recently watched their partner die, and even this is presented as a non sequitur before heading into another one of the band’s songs, his mournful experience never to be revisited or drawn out any further.

By the time the band actually breaks up, it’s less physical confrontation than the trailer would have you believe. This is perhaps one of the most irksome aspects of the film: for music that is supposed to be savage and convey struggle, it is terribly milquetoast in its portrayal. The band isn’t particularly intense, the fights are brief shouting matches, and the break up is done off screen. One would expect some more brutality than that; I know I would have traded in the professional cameras for a band that was actually gripping in its dysfunction. But maybe this is the greatest ace that director Bradley Pontecore holds. Perhaps the doc is showing acts like Voices Of Addiction are precisely the kind of bands that permeate the landscape without any sort of actual voice, ironically given the band’s name. Instead, the generic title of the film and the generic nature in which the band lives, tours, and dies all seem like a prognosis on the nature of punk today: it’s fucking dead, man.

Director: Bradley Pontecore
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Run Time: 80 minutes

Director of Communications @ V13. Lance Marwood is a music and entertainment writer who has been featured in both digital and print publications, including a foreword for the book "Toronto DIY: (2008-2013)" and The Continuist. He has been creating and coordinating content for V13 since 2015 (back when it was PureGrainAudio); before that he wrote and hosted a radio and online series called The Hard Stuff , featuring interviews with bands and insight into the Toronto DIY and wider hardcore punk scene. He has performed in bands and played shows alongside acts such as Expectorated Sequence, S.H.I.T., and Full of Hell.

Classical

MIZU Releases Hypnotic Video for “Pavane” Single [Video Review]

MIZU (fka Issie Herr), the breathtakingly talented cellist, has released a stunning video for her new single “Pavane” (NNA Tapes).

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MIZU, photo by Chong Gu
MIZU, photo by Chong Gu

MIZU (fka Issie Herr), the breathtakingly talented cellist, is releasing her second album, Forest Scenes, on March 22. Now, she has released a stunning video for the lead single “Pavane.”

These four minutes of mesmerizing imagery would work as effectively as an art installation in a gallery as it does a music video. Shots of the artist in a deep forest setting, dressed in angelic white rags, are juxtaposed with a narrative sequence of the androgynous movement artist Lili (Luyan Li) emerging from a mysterious mirrored casing and crawling across the forest floor.

The film, directed by Dan Silver, is almost hypnotic as strings soar across the claustrophobic landscape and the lone figure of Li seemingly attempts to escape her surroundings. A preview of the album reveals a set of equally immersive soundscapes that, even through the most rudimentary equipment (a battered laptop), swirl around the listener’s head like a soft aural tornado.

Those who found pleasure in MIZU’s relatively recent 2023  debut release, Distant Intervals, will find much to treasure in this new release and accompanying promo.

MIZU ‘Forest Scenes’ album artwork

MIZU ‘Forest Scenes’ album artwork

Director: Dan Silver
Starring: MIZU and Lili
Distributed by: NNA Tapes
Release Date: January 8, 2024
Run Time: 4:20

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Film

Why We Come Back? (Punk Rock Raduno) [Documentary Review]

The mini-doc, ‘Why We Come Back?,’ feels like it is something for those already familiar with the event to use as a tool for nostalgia and reminiscence.

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Why We Come Back? (Punk Rock Raduno)
Why We Come Back? (Punk Rock Raduno)

The Punk Rock Raduno Festival is approaching its 7th year in the idyllic Italian setting of Bergamo, Lombardy.

The mini-doc, Why We Come Back?, unsurprisingly features footage from last year’s festival to tempt even more fans from around the world to attend. The film mainly comprises talking head interviews from the festival organizers, Andrea and Franz, alongside the official photographer, Ludovica, and various well-selected international regular fans. Enthusiastic contributors include a middle-class punk family from England, complete with young daughter and her friend, alongside fans from Brazil and Germany, and comments from the brilliantly named The Useless 4.

The feeling we get from the film is that the festival is a positive event that approaches punk in the most family-friendly way. The sunny nature, described by Ludovica as “colourful,” is certainly tempting for those in search of music and warmth.

Unfortunately, the film rarely moves on from extreme hagiology, as all involved travel in the same direction of delivering nothing but high praise. The lack of any substantial live footage, bar a short montage at the end with a single (not too punky) track playing, does put a strain on your attention span about halfway through.

Some context is added by the organizers as they describe the event as proof that “Rock n Roll history is connected with small towns… it’s a history of outcasts, it’s a history of the wrong place at the wrong time… it could be Bergamo, it could be any small town.”

Thankfully, the Punk Rock Raduno YouTube channel does feature a whole bunch of live performances from past festivals, which provide perhaps a greater incentive for travelling to Italy in search of fun. The documentary certainly feels like it is something for those already familiar with the event to use as a tool for nostalgia and reminiscence.

Why We Come Back? (Punk Rock Raduno) movie poster

Why We Come Back? (Punk Rock Raduno) movie poster

The festival runs from July 11-14, 2024. Get details and tickets here, punkrockraduno.com.

Director: No Elevator Studio
Producer: No Elevator studio
Starring: The Useless 4
Distributed by: Punk Rock Raduno
Release Date: December 21, 2023
Run Time: 21 minutes

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Dance/Electronic

Ki Oni – “A Leisurely Swim to Everlasting Life – Live at dublab” (AKP Recordings) [Documentary Review]

‘A Leisurely Swim to Everlasting Life’ (AKP Recordings) is a wonderfully calming mini-documentary that draws you in slowly and leaves you wanting to discover more about Ki Oni.

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Ki Oni ‘A Leisurely Swim To Everlasting Life’ album artwork
Ki Oni ‘A Leisurely Swim To Everlasting Life’ album artwork

Ki Oni released his album, A Leisurely Swim to Everlasting Life, on August 25, 2023. It is a soothing and inspirational album of ambient soundscapes that received high global praise.

The artist (real name Chuck Soo-Hoo), who hails from Virginia, has now dropped an accompanying mini-documentary that takes us through an intricate recording process and allows Ki On the opportunity to discuss the inspiration behind his work.

It is fascinating to watch as he lays out his somewhat simple tools in a small studio and begins producing the meditative sounds that emanate from this almost ceremonial process.

What is interesting is how he describes the music as something to listen to at “Indoor swimming pools, long drives at night or rambling in the forest,” which re-evaluates the experience of listening to music, not necessarily at a gig or festival, but during general living.

He discusses how his music is directly influenced by daily life, via watching a basketball game or drinking coffee, and how he includes field recordings of his bicycle ride to work or raindrops on a window. We can view this as a new, possibly post-COVID attitude to music production that takes the DIY ethic to another level. Or we can simply accept that this is just beautiful ambient music.

The passing of his grandmother inspired the album. In the doc, he reminisces about spending time with her in her garden. He uses the example of Gaspar Noe’s film Enter the Void as a way of describing how he views his grandmother’s journey to the other side. In the film, the protagonist takes a journey following his death, floating across the city and checking out with all his friends and family before moving on. Whilst Noe’s movie is jarring and explicit, Ki Oni’s journey is, in his own words, “meditative.” It brings beauty and calm to a concept/journey most of us fear.

As the film draws to a close, Ki Oni introduces a flute to the mix, which he breathes into softly. This completes the picture of an artist finding a balance between electronica and more organic instrumentation.

This is a wonderfully calming film that draws you in slowly and absolutely leaves you wanting to discover more about this intriguing artist and his work.

Director: Christian Kim
Producer: Scott Osgood
Starring:  Chuck Soo-Hoo / Ki Oni
Distributed by: AKP Recordings
Release Date: January 16th, 2024
Run Time: 8 minutes

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