When you sit down to watch a documentary about electronic music, you expect to see some raves, right?
The first shot of Sisters with Transistors seems to predict this assumption, and ultimately serves to bake our pre-existing relationship with electronic music into the movie’s primary themes.
The opening scene begins in the aftermath of a rave; there’s no music playing while we observe an exiting raver dance to the lingering tunes only she can hear bouncing around the inner reaches of her psyche.
It’s the last raving we see until 80ish minutes later. Instead of treating us to more of such expected scenes, the documentary backtracks into an episodic overview of the earliest female pioneers of electronic music, the women who discovered the sounds that became the backbone of the raver’s soundtrack.
The first shot not only acts as a bridge from our present-day expectations — electronic music = raves — to the subjects of the movie, it’s also a visual representation both of what the women had to literally envision to invent electronic music in the first place, and also of their lasting legacy.
They heard the music in their heads, just like our introductory dame, and found a way to translate it into the outside world. And the only reason we even know what raves are, and why this broad could get her musical rocks off without music playing, is due to their achievements.
From their brains to her brain, if you will.
To take this idea one step further, the documentary positions our previously limited definition of electronic music as being just as regressive as those who first heard the genre and called it “nothing more than noise. They thought: “not music”; we think: “that’s not how electronic music sounds!”
The documentary fills in the space between these ignorant definitions, similar to the aforementioned raver’s space between actually hearing the music and being solely privy to its mere cranial echoes; she exists in the space between being at a rave, hearing the music after it’s gone, and then no trace of the rave whatsoever.
The documentary is a testimonial document of these holes in our cognitive knowledge, filling them to ensure the posterity of those who lived these gaps.