Movie Music

Re:Generation: New Film Makes Airtight Case That DJs Are Musicians

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Skrillex, who just took home three Grammy awards, tackled the rock genre, and chose to work with the three surviving members of The Doors. Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger appear eager in the film, sparked by the challenge of working outside their own box as much as Skrillex, who confesses a lifelong love of the iconic band.

Both elder statesmen slide easily into the loose improvisational style that was the mark of songs like "Light My Fire," with Manzarek telling Skrillex to, "Pump the motherfucker." All three lend simple vocals to the song, and the Doors take Skrillex on a walking tour of the beach areas that dominated the band's early writing sessions and atmosphere.

Doors Drummer John Densmore, recording separately from his former colleagues, is clearly more reticent. He says that, as a drummer, he fears the day when people dance only to machines, but like Krieger and Manzarek, he is still perfectly willing to live up to the name of his band and stand between the known and the unknown.

He utilizes Afro-Cuban instruments to add flair and an organic vibe to "Light My Fire," and where their relationship begins with a considerable bit of sizing up of one another, Densmore and Skrillex clearly part with a great deal of mutual appreciation.

By contrast, Pretty Lights' journey into the realm of country is so awkward as to be painful to watch. Derek Smith makes his disappointment with his assignment quite clear, being completely ignorant of country music's rich history. His reticence is mirrored in the faces of the musicians with whom he comes in contact, all of whom clearly have no respect for the saggy-panted, skewed-hat producer.

Smith works with Dr. Ralph Stanley, one of the great bluegrass voices, on the folk song "Poor Wayfaring Stranger." The 84-year-old singer makes it quite clear he's not interested in Smith's direction, and Smith brings in LeAnn Rimes to a later session to achieve the vocal sounds he was looking for.

Ironically, in spite of contentious nature of the recording, Pretty Lights' finished product may be the best song featured in the film. His take on the folk classic is full of deep nuance and sadness, making for quite the experimental dance track.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner