“Resynator” Reconnects Daughter with Synth-Innovator Dad (SXSW)

    Alison Tavel had worked as a touring crew member for musicians Grace Potter, Beck, and Jenny Lewis and directed a handful of music videos ,when in her mid-twenties she decided to find out more about her late dad, who died just weeks after her birth. Don Tavel, she had been told, had invented the synthesizer! Her first discovery was that, no, Robert Moog is credited for that. But her father did invent a very interesting early synth called the “Resynator,” and enjoyed a huge reputation within the electronic music community the 1970s.

    She finds one of the few Resynators ever made in her Grandmother’s attic and takes it to a series of her father’s early synth peers to repair it and learn more about it and why it never became a bestselling instrument. Along the way she discovers more about why her father and mother divorced, his depression, his drug abuse and his own family’s refusal to acknowledge any of his dark issues.

    This is a beautifully constructed and heartfelt story about a young woman reconnecting with her father and his legacy, enlightened by meetings with musicians such as Fred Armisen, Money Mark, Will Gregory from Goldfrapp and Adrian Utley from Portishead as they try out and evaluate the hard-to-find early synth. She also talks to Peter Gabriel who bought one of the first few Resynators.

    Alison also discovered a 1969 album her dad recorded and she and her collaborators used AI to take samples from it and create music for the doc’s end credits. This documentary premiered at South by Southwest last month and will be especially enjoyable by both fans of electronic music history and family reconnection narratives.

    Latest articles

    More Reviews