This documentary is a journey into our own fascination, a collection of portraits of folk musicians living in New England, and a study of the ground on which their music is founded. We listen to them as they tell their stories and play their music. First and foremost, Behind a Hill is a tribute to these musicians and a rare peep into the house parties and basement jams of New England, in the northwestern corner of the USA, with the vain hope attached that maybe you, the viewer, will grow as fond of the music as we have. When we first encountered these musicians, we were overwhelmed by the quality of their musical output. We were entranced by the melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and tempos and every other element that constitutes a song (or, as is often the case, a piece of abstract drone music, heavy feedback, or someone banging a steel pipe against a bag of dirt while chanting in a yet undiscovered language, or...). Perhaps even more than the music itself, we were drawn by an expression of endless possibilities, playfulness and innovation embedded into the music - qualities and ideas that many contemporary musicians seem to have abandoned long ago. Through its freshness and its credible lack of self-awareness, the music managed to circumvent our congenital disorder of always trying to decipher the sounds academically, and to assess it within the context of music history.
We are not saying that this music reinvents the wheel, that it is not inspired by the punk movement (among many other things), or that you could not write a thesis about authenticity and culture on the basis of this 'scene'... But oddly enough none of these things seem to matter the slightest. This music is not countering anything specific or making explicit political statements. It is played with the same casual attitude as people going to the supermarket to shop for milk. Listening is like wandering into some random, shabby bar and falling instantly in love with the band in the corner playing at full throttle, while the regulars loudly discuss how shitty they think the band is. In short: It is the Goddamn Real Thing.
Our interest gradually grew to an unhealthy obsession, and, through numerous emails, trades, and mutual visits, we came to know the musicians and ultimately call them our friends.
Meanwhile, two questions have kept nagging us: What exactly triggered our head-over-heels love for this particular 'scene'? And why is the whole world not going crazy over this music? We set out to try and answer the first question by examining where this music is coming from and what is driving the musicians to make it, thereby, hopefully, in the process helping to patch the latter.
Behind a Hill is divided into 9 chapters with a total playing time of 1 hour and 16 seconds, all free to watch on Youtube (and this homepage).
We hope that you enjoy it and welcome any sort of feedback, you might have.