Saturday, May 23, 2015

Front Line Assembly - “Kampfbereit ” DVD

First digital live document of veteran industrial band

Vancouver-based electro-industrial group Front Line Assembly have been around for almost 30 years now. It’s a damned shame, but this is their first ever live DVD. The classic 1996 film “Live Wired” has shamefully never been converted to DVD from it’s VHS format, so this is, well, the first, believe it or not!

“Kampfbereit” documents FLA’s 2011 “Improvised.Electronic.Device” tour in Canada, and it does so quite well, especially for the shoestring budget of Anastasia Blink (aka Nasty Byte), who basically crafted this as a labor of love. Without a heaping of digital effects (one of the main complaints about the aforementioned “Live Wired”), Nasty Byte captures the energetic live antics of bouncy frontman Bill Leeb and his team with intensity and honesty. And although I’m making this sound like a bootleg, keep in mind that this well-edited DVD features multiple camera angles, a great mix, etc. It’s far and above the best live visual document of FLA out there, bar none.

Highlights here include classic tracks like “Circuitry”, “Plasticity”, and “Millennium”, and the encore, “Liquid Separation”, all physically intense with the addition of Jason Bazinet (SMP) on live drums. Simply said, any serious fan of FLA (and I include myself in that category) needs to pick up this DVD pronto. It’s a great document and a fun show.

“Memory Lane” DVD (director: Shawn Holmes)

Flawed indie sci-fi

This indie sci-fi/thriller goes in some interesting directions, for sure, but ultimately doesn’t seem to capture the intensity the subject matter deserves. “Memory Lane” follows a troubled war veteran who meets a lovely lass just as she is about to commit suicide. He ends up in love with the mysterious girl (whose full name he never even knows), even going so far as to buy a ring and a house to share with her. Well, when she ends up dead in a bathtub, he convinces himself that she was murdered, and somehow receives visions or flashbacks when he himself attempts (and fails) his own suicide.

He, with the help of his friends, revisits death (via garage-bathtub-electrocution) to reconnect with these visions, hoping to solve the mystery of his love’s passing. It’s a fairly cool premise, but I failed to feel much for the protagonist and his lover, or their predicament. 

Director Holmes definitely has some skillful flourishes as a filmmaker, and some vision, but the overall execution here fails. Editing needs some work, cameras are overly jerky and lighting/dialogue are obscure and sometimes meandering. The acting here is average, but the film’s pace and cinematography made me lose interest quickly. Yes, this one was tough to sit through.