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‘Sisters with Transistors’ review: Unique music documentary stands apart

Sisters with Transistors is a look at the pioneering women of electronic music. More than just a look at recent history, it goes into the events of the 20th century that shaped the genre. It is an insightful look that will interest more than just fans. 

When thinking of electronic music, thoughts do not usually turn to air raid sirens during World War II. That is just one of the ways Sisters with Transistors sets itself apart from other music documentaries. There is less of the self-congratulatory platitudes and more depth. 

The look of Sisters with Transistors is also unique. The film consists almost entirely of archival footage. There is little of the talking heads that are usually all over these types of documentaries. Instead, audio snippets are used as voiceovers in a nice touch. It is a perfect mix of subject and presentation.

'Sisters with Transistors' review: Unique music documentary stands apart

This is not to say that filmmaker Lisa Rovner has gone for style over substance. Her film takes a hard look at the sexism that ingrained in the history of music. Some of the most powerful moments of Sisters with Transistors involve female musicians recounting their struggles over footage of women in subservient roles. 

Sisters with Transistors more than a film about women making music. There is a creativity and inventiveness that is admirable throughout the narrative. Plenty of documentaries about musicians try to highlight the feel good aspect; few are able to inspire. 

There is one glaring issue with Rover’s film. The vast majority of the women profiled are white. For a story in which breaking down barriers is such an important theme, it is a huge misstep. This does not make Sisters with Transistors any less enjoyable, but it does showcase how not all boundaries have been crossed.

Sisters with Transistors opens nationwide April 23

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