Parallax Sounds Chicago

Documentary, 96min, Co-production of Televisor Troika (D) and Cineparalleli Hobo Shibumi (FR)
with backing of: Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, CNC – COSIP (FR), DRIEHAUS Foundation (USA)
Written and directed by: Augusto Contento
Producers: Michael P. Aust, Dagmar Niehage, Giancarlo Grande
DOP: Augusto Contento
Music: Ken Vandermark, David Grubbs


The urban landscape of Chicago, as well as the postrock music that was born there, captures an exact image of the voracity, vulnerability, malleability and disorientation of the so-called Generation X, of post-modern existence and of the vast chaos of globalized mass culture. From rock and blues, postrock receives the ability to clearly describe reality and unrest of all kinds, and to accurately record the changes of modern life.

The metropolitan environment and the search for meaning of a whole generation led young musicians from all over the United States reunited in Chicago to create a musical genre that tries and reproduce the structures of the city and its overwhelming rhythm, as well as the spiritual wandering of the nineties’ youth.

The main characters of the postrock scene, being themselves members of the so-called Generation X – this expression became popular when American writer Douglas Coupland used it as the title of a novel published in 1991 and it makes reference generally to those born from 1966 and 1975 – have been capable of describing musically the confusion and the scepticism of these young people after the failure of the great ideals that had animated the previous generation.

In this film, David Grubbs and other major figures will cruise Chicago to tell us their individual stories and what led them to embark in the postrock adventure, while visiting the places that have been important to their personal and professional lives, the places that inspired them, that imbued Chicago with poetic value. Talking to the camera or to each other, they will describe the places to be explored and establish the visual correspondences between music and territory. Frames and citations taken from movies shot in Chicago and matching the spirit of each protagonist will help to understand those correspondences and how the cinematic avatar of the metropolis is born. At the Empty Bottle, the most important alternative venue in Chicago, musicians jump onto the stage, embodying postrock music with their unique performances.

Architecture, music and cinema: three different languages that combine and allow us to understand the city, Chicago, the music of a generation, and the traces of cinema from this metropolis lingering in the spectator’s imagination.

The goal of this project is not to pay a tribute to the protagonists of the postrock scene but to create a representation of their work and their multiform sound through their visions of the city and their reactions to the urban environment.

We did not choose the title Parallax by accident: the word comes from the Greek parallassein -to move or displace, change, deviation- while in photography it is used to describe the error arising from the fact that what the photographer sees in the viewfinder is different from what the lens is focused on. Consequently, the image is always shifted in relation to what one thinks one sees. Finally, parallax means that the object changes its appearance depending on the position from where one looks at it, and in our opinion, on who looks at it.