Carlos Gonzalez has long been known to denizens of the artistic sub-underground as the force behind Russian Tsarlag, the one-man band whose exercises in broken-down songwriting and uncanny atmospheres remain all-time favorites of a certain troubled segment of the concertgoing public. Gonzalez’s enveloping aesthetic world is also buttressed by his bountiful and celebrated work in comics (Slime Freak, Test Tube, Kramers Ergot) and by his oft-whispered-about home movies: self-released, no-budget, wholly singular takes on filmmaking, shot on half-busted camcorders and crudely edited in-camera or on analog video mixers, passed around thereafter in dubbed-off VHS form among friends and initiates, all of them promising—as they load this certain tape—that you, dear viewer, have never seen anything like it.
From this category comes Pleasure Editions’ release of Forgotten World, a two-hour-plus epic and a highpoint of ambition in the Gonzalez cinematic oeuvre. Originally filmed in 2013-2015 and screened selectively on the east and west coasts, this is the film’s first release in finished form. The plot, such as it is, is easy to summarize: a traveling dentist struggles with visions during a cross-country trip. But the map is not the territory—the film itself cannot be so simply described, and had better just be seen. Forget your outsider tropes and your genre exercises: this is pure American art, the likes of which oozes through the caverns of the modern underground only so often. It’s time it bubbled up some.