SXSW review: Resynator

Intriguing documentary about a woman (also the director) exploring the legacy of her father who himself died weeks after her birth.

This SXSW world premiere started like so many other documentaries where the child seeks the identity of a parent.

Alison Tavel’s father Dave Tavel invented the “Resynator” a synthesizer that takes an instrument and synthesizes its voice. Alison at first thinks he invented the synthesizer itself. As we gradually find out in Resonator Dave Tavel led a very complicated life. Under the weave of Alison’s direction the audience finds out how complicated in much the way that Alison did on her original journey of discovery.

First we meet some rock stars and I don’t want to spoil the tone of the originality of the cameos so I will only hint appearances by Peter Gabriel (who’s in the trailer) and Emmett Chapman, the inventor of the Chapman Stick (a combo guitar and bass instrument). The latter instrument was influential in the sound of classic rock just as the Resynator was important on some recordings of that era. The point being I instantly recognized Peter Gabriel but was even more in awe of Chapman exclaiming ‘So that’s what he looks like.”

The path gets dark as Alison’s mother reveals that a divorce was imminent and other former friends suggest suicide.

Resynator provides unexpected emotional moments. Combine that with a sense of cultural truth about an almost forgotten rock scene.

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