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Wednesday, Sep 22 2010
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The Mellotron, like punk rock, was adopted with such enthusiasm by the Brits that they managed to forget it was an American invention. The keyboard that played eight-second bits of prerecorded tape was an early electronic sampling device favored by the Beatles, the Moody Blues, Yes, and countless other bands of the 1960s and ’70s. Dianna Dilworth’s affectionate feature-length documentary, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie, catalogues the instrument’s transformation from a California techie’s invention to London rockers’ must-have accessory — and its predictable passages from cutting-edge to unfashionable to cult obsession. The program also includes keyboardist Rick Wakeman recounting the history of the Mellotron in a 1998 BBC broadcast (backed tonight by David Cox’ images) and additional live commentary from local keyboard luminary Wobbly. This is the first in a batch of Other Cinema shows spotlighting “dead media” such as eight-track tapes and Fisher-Price’s beloved PXL 2000 low-resolution toy camcorder. Gallows humor is but a small part of these shows’ appeal, which salute the resourcefulness of artists and the personal, expressive work they can create with dated technologies.
Sat., Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m., 2010

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Michael Fox

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