Back in the 1920s, the very notion that music could be electronic was revolutionary. Enter Leon Theremin and his game-changing invention, which would not only enjoy an enduring presence in music for decades to come, but also inspire other musical devices such as Robert Moog’s first commercial synthesizer.
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey tells a story that crosses borders, generations, approaches, and styles. Although it is certainly not the only instrument to achieve this transversality, the Theremin possesses a different, somewhat mystical, aura that comes from being played without any physical contact from the musician. In short, the result looks and sounds like magic.
Two stories are told in parallel: one is the gradual revolution brought about by the theremin in pop, classical, and contemporary music; the other is its creator’s complicated personal and professional life, which includes his forced work in a sharashka and cooperation with the KGB in the construction of espionage tools. Featuring theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, electronic music pioneer Robert Moog, Brian Wilson, Todd Rundgren, and many more, this fascinating documentary also includes what is among the last filmed footage of Leon Theremin himself.