Film - Hot Sugar's Cold World

Hot Sugar's Cold World

Steve Taylor-Bryant enters the Sonic category of this years BFI London Film Festival with the documentary Hot Sugar's Cold World...

Hot Sugar’s Cold World (2015)
Director: Adam Bhala Lough
Cast: Nick Koenig

From internationally acclaimed filmmaker Adam Bhala Lough, and Executive Producers David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jody Hill, Hot Sugar’s Cold World is a fly-on-the-wall look into the life of a modern-day Mozart, Nick Koenig (Hot Sugar) as he creates one-of-a-kind music made entirely out of sounds from the world around him. Nick lives every young musician’s dream, but when his internet- famous girlfriend, (rapper Kitty) goes on tour and they split, he flies to Paris where he grew up, to move on with his life, while hunting for increasingly unique and exotic sounds to sample and turn into beats. Through his journey, Hot Sugar goes on some crazy adventures, meets some fascinating people and learns what it takes to survive as an artist. With appearances by former members of Das Racist, legendary filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive), the world’s most renowned Astrophysicist, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos on FOX) and comedian Martin Starr (HBO’s Silicon Valley) among a host of other musicians and personalities.

I’ll be honest from the outset and state that I have never heard of Nick Koenig/Hot Sugar and, no matter how acclaimed Adam Bhala Lough is, I have also never heard of him. However the ‘Modern-Day Mozart’ tag did intrigue me. What I discovered in Hot Sugar’s Cold World though went deeper than just his views on music and use of sound. I found a young man who struggles socially, often using interns to do his talking, and whose relationship with the internet appears to be quite the double edged sword, in that he can get his music and his sounds out, but the use of social networking certainly plays a large part in the break up of his relationship with the rap star Kitty, who I also have never heard of. The early parts of the documentary, where Nick talks about how amplification changed the need for musical instruments in the traditional sense, made some sense even to someone as traditional in their musical tastes as I am and, whilst I understand his points that sounds can be used so there is no point to drums anymore, I have to ask the question ‘Just because it can be done, should it be done?’ but that maybe the son of a musician and drummer of three decades talking.

The documentary gave a fascinating insight into music production in this new digital age that I had never come across or considered but I find the tag of Modern-Day Mozart to be false and feel that Nick Koenig is just experimenting, as every generation does, and is not actually that different to the prog-rock movement of the 1970’s, however by the end I did become quite the fan of the music his recording of sounds produced. With a run time of 85 minutes and a lot of that time just being Nick recording various sounds, I found that it dragged slightly for maybe a casual viewer and perhaps being edited down to around an hour would have maybe more of an impact on the audience that, like me, didn’t know of Hot Sugar before watching the film but it still very watchable in the main.

Image - BFI.
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