December 4, 2009

PODCAST: Until the Light Takes Us (Aaron Aites & Audrey Ewell)

UNTIL THE LIGHT TAKES US directors Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites

Pressed for time, since I'll be moderating tonight's 7pm and 9:15pm Q&As of Until the Light Takes Us at NYC's Cinema Village, I'll cut straight to my own LA Weekly review from last fall, when co-directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell's doc played at the AFI Fest:

Heavy metal begat the speedy tempos of thrash, and thrash begat the double-kick drumming and extreme distortions of Norwegian black metal—an unexpectedly melodic subgenre that in turn begat a ’90s underground scene that was notoriously eclipsed by murder, suicide and large-scale arson. Filmmaking team Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites spent two years in Norway investigating what’s left of the Black Circle, the "unholy cult" (as the newspapers stained them) of eloquent young musicians in corpse paint, who congregated at an Oslo record store opened by Mayhem guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, who was later stabbed to death by one of their own. Today, Burzum front man Varg "Count Grisnackh" Vikernes sits arrogantly and unrepentantly in a maximum security prison, the pioneer of a classically inspired, dark ambient sound, as well as a string of politically motivated Christian church burnings. Darkthrone's Gylve "Fenriz" Nagell, a doting follower of Vikernes (musically, at least), seems alone after the fallout, and mourns how black metal was commercially co-opted after all the negative press. As richly compelling and artfully shot as rock docs get, Until the Light Takes Us goes beyond charting black metal's underpinnings and the tabloid sensationalism of its fiery saga. Through smartly constructed reveals and blunt interviews that include many vulnerable moments, Ewell and Aites investigate the entanglement of art, terrorism, and the media that tried to define both.

Sitting down with Aites and Ewell in their Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment, the three of us discussed how they embedded themselves in this volatile subculture, their theories on how showmanship spiraled into criminal activity, whether Aites' background as frontman of the band Iran made him hypersensitive to a story about musicians, and how they manage to get along as both a couple and artistic collaborators.

To listen to the podcast, click here. (20:48)

Podcast Music
INTRO: Darkthrone, "Quintessence"
OUTRO: Iran, "I Can See the Future"

[Until the Light Takes Us is now playing in New York, Detroit, Providence and Grand Rapids, with more dates to come. For more info, please visit the official site.]

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Posted by ahillis at December 4, 2009 10:46 AM