Close Up

20 November 2016: Take Two: Instrument / A Pollock of Sound


We are thrilled to host the London premiere of A Pollock of Sound: Borbetomagus, with filmmaker Jef Mertens in attendance for Q&A. This programme presents two vital documents of the DIY music underground, with Jem Cohen's Instrument following Fugazi over ten years, followed by the first-ever full feature documentary on the legendary group Borbetomagus and their scorched earth approach to music.

Jem Cohen
1998 | 115 min | Colour & B/W | Digital

Far from a traditional documentary, Instrument is a musical document and portrait of musicians at work made collaboratively between filmmaker Jem Cohen and the Washington DC band Fugazi. The project covers the ten-year period from the band's inception in 1987.

"Piecing it together over five years, I thought of bringing dub to documentary, unadulterated real-time performances, abstract, rough-hewn Super-8 collages and archival artifacts that would collide and conjoin in a way that honestly represented the musical experience." – Jem Cohen 

A Pollock of Sound
Jef Mertens
2016 | 96 min | Colour & B/W | Digital
Followed by Q&A with the filmmaker

A Pollock of Sound is the first-ever full feature documentary film on the legendary group Borbetomagus.

From 1979 on, Borbetomagus have persevered a "no holds barred" musical style, described and boxed by the media so many times that they remain uncategorized. Coming together in upstate NY, far away from the burgeoning NYC scene, they began having a cult status reaching as far as Northeast Asia.  With both saxophone players extending techniques beyond recognition and a guitar player utilizing metal shards besides a plectrum, the band have showcased a whole new vocabulary staying true to the word "free".

Jef Mertens brings the story previously only written in select underground media, as told by band members Don Dietrich, Donald Miller and Jim Sauter. Made on a low budget string and with the help of many artists, writers, photographers and fellow filmmakers, the film exhibits a raw, urgent and unpolished vision on a band that has spent almost 4 decades defining and redefining their music.