The Mellotron, like punk rock, was adopted with such enthusiasm by the Brits that they managed to forget it was an American invention. The keyboard that played eight-second bits of prerecorded tape was an early electronic sampling device favored by the Beatles, the Moody Blues, Yes, and countless other bands of the 1960s and 70s. Dianna Dilworths affectionate feature-length documentary, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie, catalogues the instruments transformation from a California techies invention to London rockers must-have accessory and its predictable passages from cutting-edge to unfashionable to cult obsession. The program also includes keyboardist Rick Wakeman recounting the history of the Mellotron in a 1998 BBC broadcast (backed tonight by David Cox images) and additional live commentary from local keyboard luminary Wobbly. This is the first in a batch of Other Cinema shows spotlighting dead media such as eight-track tapes and Fisher-Prices beloved PXL 2000 low-resolution toy camcorder. Gallows humor is but a small part of these shows appeal, which salute the resourcefulness of artists and the personal, expressive work they can create with dated technologies.
Sat., Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m., 2010