Music documentary time – Rave, Synth pop, New Romantics…


LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JANUARY 01: (left to right) Steve Jansen, David Sylvian, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn of Japan in London, England in 1982. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

There’s a plethora of music documentaries out there, but sometime they all appear at once or at least it may feel that way. This week we’ve lined up four recent additions for you, ranging from rave to Brian Eno.

How Synth-Pop Became Synth-Pop

Brian Eno & Stewart Brand on Film, Music, and Creativity | SXSW 2021

This discussion from SXSW 2021 features Brian Eno in discussion with Stewart Brand, the subject of a new documentary called We Are As Gods.

The film profiles Stewart Brand, who is a pioneer of counterculture, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism. He’s best known for his work as editor of The Whole Earth Catalog; founding seminal WELL online community; and being one of the founders of The Long Now Foundation.

Eno & Brand talk with We Are As Gods directors David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg about the film, collaborating on the musical score, and limiting creative possibilities in the digital age.

Better Days: The Story of UK Rave | Official Trailer | Amazon Music

A new documentary exploring over 30 years of UK rave music is set to be released for streaming later this month.

Better Days: The Story Of UK Rave looks over the origins of the UK’s rave scene, such as early free parties, as well as its legacy through the lens of current and emerging UK artists working with various forms of electronic music. Illegal parties that have taken place amid the COVID-19 pandemic are also assessed within the 32-minute film.

Directed by MOBO-nominated filmmaker Hugo Jenkins, Better Days also features a score put together by Overmono, the duo of Tessela and Truss, and two soon-to-be-released Amazon Original tracks: Dance System and Rush Davis’ ‘Better Days’ and a remix by Special Request of Orbital’s ‘Chime’ (Special Request Remix). Among those interviewed for the documentary are Afrodeutsche, SHERELLE, Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll, and Colin Dale. You can watch a trailer for the film above.

Better Days: The Story Of UK Rave premieres on Twitch on May 28 at 7pm BST. It will also be available to watch in the Amazon Music app, and via the Amazon Music YouTube channel, from May 31.

In this documentary, explore the move from rock, punk to the electronic music we have today, including the artists behind the movement from Kraftwerk to Gary Numan.

The New Romantics (Documentary)

The New Romantic movement was a pop culture movement that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The movement emerged from the nightclub scene in London and Birmingham at venues such as Billy’s and The Blitz. The New Romantic movement was characterised by flamboyant, eccentric fashion inspired by fashion boutiques such as Kahn and Bell in Birmingham and PX in London. Early adherents of the movement were often referred to by the press by such names as Blitz Kids, New Dandies and Romantic Rebels.

Influenced by David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Roxy Music, the New Romantics developed fashions inspired by the glam rock era coupled with the early Romantic period of the late 18th and early 19th century (from which the movement took its name). The term “New Romantic” is known to have been coined by musician, producer, manager and innovator Richard James Burgess. He stated that “‘New Romantic’ […] fit the Blitz scene and Spandau Ballet, although most of the groups tried to distance themselves from it.”

Though it was a fashion movement, several British music acts in the late 1970s and early 1980s adopted the style and became known to epitomise it within the press, including Steve Strange of Visage, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls, Classix Nouveaux and Boy George (of Culture Club). Ultravox were also often identified as New Romantics by the press, although they did not exhibit the same visual styles of the movement, despite their link to the band Visage. Japan and Adam and the Ants were also labelled as New Romantic artists by the press, although both repudiated this and neither had any direct connection to the original scene. A number of these bands adopted synthesizers and helped to develop synth-pop in the early 1980s, which, combined with the distinctive New Romantic visuals, helped them first to national success in the UK, and then, via MTV, play a major part in the Second British Invasion of the U.S. charts.

By the end of 1981, the original movement had largely dissipated. Although some of the artists associated with the scene continued their careers, they had largely abandoned the aesthetics of the movement. There were attempts to revive the movement from the 1990s, including the short-lived Romo scene