Under the Underground
It would be best not to try some things presented in this film at home, for one thing, if you attach any importance to sparing your body the risk of being slammed by a high voltage bolt of electricity. Fact is there are unsecure electrical experiments being conducted in a surreal parallel universe set up by the Viennese musician, technician and sound engineer Chris Janka in rambling catacombs somewhere beneath Vienna´s seventh district – as if this was at all normal. Janka is incessantly building and tinkering with his equipment and he seems to derive pure joy from his inventions and test assemblies, even if their purpose is not always clear to outsiders.
At the end of the 1980s, squatters and punk musicians shared this place with packs of rats that came and went. In the meantime, it is occupied by amplifiers, drum sets, retro reel-to-reel tape recorders and mixing boards for professional recording sessions. Director Angela Christlieb portrays the site and its master of ceremonies using dynamic, densely processed images that interweave musical interludes by such uncompromising niche acts as Blueblut, Schapka, Petra und der Wolf and MCRhine, while including an appearance by the host´s brother, Ali Janka – member of the artist group Gelitin. Christlieb presents the Janka brothers as holy fools engaged in absurd artist practices while they narrate how, over the course of decades, the cellar passageways became a studio. They recall how absurd but also romantically punk those early years felt, back when they lived here without electricity, money or running water – and always including a pinch of mortal danger. But in truth what really threatens this underground paradise comes from outside – and outside the non-commercial logic at work here. (Stefan Grissemann)
Angela Christlieb´s documentary guides us through the improvised spaces of Janka Industries, an underground cellar vault and creative microcosm of Vienna´s subculture. Voodoo Jürgens and Bands such as Petra und der Wolf and Tankris practice and perform here in the midst of a bizarre hodge-podge of electronic scrap. A music film and an ultimate underground homage that cinematically captures the magic of the site. (catalogue Diagonale 2019)
Jurybegründung beste Musikdokumentation beim UNERHÖRT! Musikfilmfestival 2019
Under the Underground