Music News

Various artists

Whatever your opinion of Moonshine Records and its amazing tendency to fill store racks with an endless procession of Keoki remixes and comps inevitably featuring Cirrus, the label has definitely helped to bring electronic music to America's attention. Over the past few years, Moonshine has also provided a massive boost to the live tour scene with its Moonshine Overamerica package, which hit a new peak in 1999, doubling attendance from previous years and filling venues nationwide.

For those who missed out on the Moonshine caravan (which also toured extensively in 2000), the label has produced a new video release, Moonshine Overamerica: The Documentary. The film, less a true documentary than a Moonshine PR vehicle, navigates the behind-the-scenes world of this traveling musical circus -- kind of a Rolling Thunder Revue for the new millennium.

While it's a generally accepted rule that electronic performers are more expressive behind the decks than in front of a mic, the artists featured here are loquacious and friendly. They're also thoughtful enough about their experiences that, while they won't set world records for introspection, an hour with them is time well spent. The video is edited in a rapid-fire style, bouncing, leaping, and jumping from artist to artist in quick succession -- accurately capturing both the pace and feel of the music.

Although a fair share of predictable high jinks is included -- Keoki riding his motorcycle, for example -- cutting-edge artists like legendary techno man Carl Cox and drum 'n' bass experts AK1200 and Dara are offered a platform for more-serious artistic issues. The junglists in particular have the most interesting segments, weighing their experiences as newcomers against the ascendancy of drum 'n' bass in the States. (Dara, an Irish expatriate, has a fascinating perspective, coming from the d'n'b­saturated British Isles.) Unfortunately their efforts are neglected in the film's backing soundtrack, most of it focusing on Moonshine's bread-and-butter techno and breakbeat styles instead.

Ultimately, though, the video does allow its audience an all-too-rare glimpse into the day-to-day and on-the-road adventures of some of electronic music's finest. It is worthwhile watching for die-hards or the simply curious.

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Rob Geary