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With Modulations, her second film in three years in competition at Sundance, Iara Lee is quickly becoming the authoritative cinematic voice for a subculture whose nucleus is electronic music. Created by computer artists who manipulate sampled sounds with synthesizers, and performed on turntables at after hours "raves" and parties by disk jockeys, electronic music is as much a state of being as it is entertainment.

Modulations intersperses artful imagery with talking-head interviews and party and club footage to examine the historical development of electronic music and explore the philosophy of its young audience. The film, like the music, is multilayered in ways that go much deeper than what can be casually observed. Lee captures the sort of visceral images only available to an insider. Originally conceived as underground gathering places, an increasing number of raves are now organized by commercially driven entrepreneurs. Lee traces the tribal roots of such styles as "house," "acid," "ambient," "Detroit," and "German drum and bass." Further, she examines the influence of artists like Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa on the music, and assesses the impact of John Cage, whose early work, with its use of mechanical and background noise, seeded the creation of today's electronic music.

Using interviews with the scene's most respected and influential players and clips from performances in the key hubs of the United States, Germany, Japan and Great Britain, Lee conveys the expansive reach of this constantly morphing art form. Her expertly conceived and executed film is sure to be a staple in the collection of the electronic music movement's growing legion of worshippers.

- Trevor Groth

Directed by: Iara Lee
Written by: Peter Shapiro
Produced by: George Gund
Original Music by: Karl-Heinz Stockhausen

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