Acid house, deep house, electro house, ghetto house, progressive house, hip house and big room house. Characterised by a repetitive four-on-the-floor beat and typically using a tempo of 120 beats per minute, house music has grown from very humble beginnings in clubs in Chicago’s underground to a worldwide phenomenon that branches out into an array of different varieties and sub-genres and now has intricate ties to mainstream pop.
Laurent Garnier: Off The Record is a look at the emergence and growth of house music through the lens of one of the icons of the genre, French musician and DJ Laurent Garnier. The movie is an intimate portrayal of Garnier with plenty of input from the man himself and weaves a fascinating narrative together that shows us how music shaped him and he in turn helped to shape the music.
Taking us on a globe-spanning journey from Garnier’s early childhood in France to his days starting out working as a waiter in London and his subsequent move to Manchester as his fledgling DJ career was starting out, the film splices in talking points and interviews with other famous DJs and contemporaries of the house genre. It’s engrossing and entertaining in equal measure, with Garnier proving a wholly intriguing protagonist to anchor a documentary around. While we get plenty of Garnier addressing the camera directly himself to recount his own experiences with music, it’s the moments when he seems to be focusing on others, such as workshopping with students, that speak more about the character of the man and the passion he has for music and for his own work within it.
First-time director Gabin Rivoire has put together a polished documentary with plenty of broader appeal than just those familiar with the intricacies of house or techno music. Pulsating along soundtracked by some of Garnier’s DJ sessions around the world, Laurent Garnier: Off The Record is a testament to the charm and affability of Laurent Garnier himself that he carries the documentary along with passion and knowledge and insight into a genre of music that many people probably don’t realise became utilised by the likes of Madonna, Whitney Houston and Kylie.