“An Impression: Dischord Records” at the DC Independent Film Festival

An Impression: Dischord Records

For a subject with as interesting a history as Dischord Records, the documentary “An Impression: Dischord Records” (Produced by Leena Jayaswol & Kylos Brannon and featured in this year’s DC Independent Film Festival) crams a fairly concise portrait into a slender fifteen minutes. For the uninitiated, this doc is a great stepping-stone with which to approach the history of one of the most storied, notorious, and organically run record labels in the world. For anyone who owns more than one Fugazi record or who knows who Ian Svenonius is, “Impression” is a superficial review. Despite an attractive opening sequence, juxtaposing gritty DC scenery with flyer and album art from the label’s early days, nothing leaps out visually. The short film’s key strengths are in the content, which brings a steady barrage of eye and ear candy for any DC punk aficionado.
Other than co-founder Jeff Nelson, most of the Dischord figureheads and associates at least make an appearance. All of the subjects, including Ian MacKaye, who conveniently provides a stripped-down history, Ryan Nelson and Chad Clark of Beauty Pill, and Mark Anderson (author of Dance of Days, the ideal print expansion of this documentary) all provide valuable insight to Dischord’s legacy. Those who hold these ideals close may enjoy “Impression” on its own merits and the fine bursts of well-archived performance footage by the likes of Q and Not U, Fugazi, Rites of Spring, and most all of the label’s other best-known bands. Ultimately, though, the film is much more ideal for someone who aims to discover DC Punk but doesn’t have enough time to sit down and read Anderson’s book. Seeing Anderson animatedly talk about the label and the scene is about as rewarding.