Directed by Ryan Douglass and Sara Leavitt • Documentary • 2015 • 75 minutes
For over 30 years, Martin Bisi has recorded music from his studio in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood. After a chance New York encounter, the studio was founded with money from Brian Eno, who subsequently worked on the album On Land there.
Working with Bill Laswell and the band Material, Bisi recorded Herbie Hancock's hit Rockit in this underground space. This was the first mainstream, popular song to feature a DJ and a turntable, utilizing "scratching". Following that success, Bisi worked with many other influential musicians there, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Angels of Light, John Zorn, Foetus and the Dresden Dolls. He has recorded across many genres, from experimental music, to hip hop and indie rock in the old factory building by the contaminated Gowanus Canal.
However, the future of the recording studio is in question as it is being squeezed in by the encroaching gentrification of the neighborhood. A new, massive Whole Foods supermarket across the street, is the latest addition to this once out-of-the-way area, that Bisi fears will increase property values to the point of pushing out long-time renters and artists like himself.
The documentary includes interviews with musicians such as Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Michael Gira of Swans, Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Bob Bert, who played on Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising, Bill Laswell of Material, JG Thirlwell aka Foetus, Grand Mixer DXT and Michael Holman of Gray (with Jean-Michel Basquiat) and creator of famed 1984 hip-hop TV pilot Graffiti Rock.