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Sfumato Review (VHS)

By: Dave Barousse

Has your riding gotten stagnant? Are you looking for some motivation? Do you need some new ideas or do you want to take your riding to the next level? If you fall into any of the previous categories or if you simply want to see how sick wakeskating has become, then Cassette Wakeskate's new team video, Sfumato, is just what the doctor ordered.

While anxiously waiting to receive this new film in the mail, I was constantly hearing stories about parts in the video that were almost hard to believe. Well, believe it because it is real. Lets just say that each member of the Cassette team knows how to ride a wakeskate. These guys are doing things now that were thought to be impossible on a wakeskate just recently. The riding in this film is jaw dropping and the way it is presented to you makes it even that much better.

The concept of Sfumato is simple: To be one kick ass video about wakeskating and at the same time, showcase the Cassette team and their riding. As the second Cassette team video, Sfumato features the riding of Danny Hampson, Drew McGuckin, Jim Leatherman, Aaron Reed, Myles Vickers, Josh Johnson and Thomas Horrell. Produced by Attentiondeficit, the video isn’t as “artsy” as the first Cassette team video, Linear Perspective, and is almost 100% wakeskating. This time around, the art is more in the riding and not as much in the editing, although the editing is still really good. Those that thought Linear Perspective was a little too artsy will enjoy the amount of riding footage in Sfumato.

When Cassette labels a film a “team video”, it is not only because the video features the riding of the team members. Each team member had a hand in putting this video together. Riders in the video were also doing filming, editing, sound, etc. The angles caught by still cameras, chase boats and a helicopter allowed the editors to show tricks from several different views. The helicopter shots are really cool.

The running time of Sfumato is about 32 minutes. With the amount of riding packed into that half hour, I was still left wanting more because the riding was so good, but felt very satisfied when the video ended. I wanted to go ride more than anything.

The music chosen for Sfumato is exactly what you would expect from the Cassette team and I personally liked it a lot. I wasn’t familiar with most of the bands in the film, but I couldn’t get the songs out of my head for hours after watching it. I still keep spelling the word “hospital” in my head as I type this review. The songs are upbeat and go well with the riding in the film. The editing in different sections of the film coordinate well with the music, and at some points give it the effect of light show in a nightclub. Below is a list of the bands and the song titles from the film.

The Postal Service – “Natural Anthem” (Intro)
The Faint – “Take Me To The Hospital” (Danny Hampson’s section)
Enon – “Disposable Parts” (Jim Leatherman’s section)
Interpol – “PDA” (Drew McGuckin’s section)
Bright Eyes – “The Calendar Hung Itself” (Tour Section)
The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights” (Thomas’ Section)
Turing Machine – “Robotronic” (Aaron’s Section)
Fischerspooner – “Natural Disaster” (Credits’ Song)

The riding in Sfumato is outstanding. I was blown away by the tricks captured in this video. The progression of the sport is obvious with the big tricks performed, but I was more impressed by the lines and combinations of tricks. The riding in this film resembled the type of riding you would see in a skate video rather than a wakeboarding video. There are more uncut lines and combos rather than one clip of a trick faded into another clip. Just the riding in the intro will have you glued to the TV for the next 30 minutes.

Danny Hampson
Can you say kickflip? Danny Hampson sure can, but he can do more than just say it. Hampson has really stepped up the caliber of the kickflip on a wakeskate. This kid can kickflip his wakeskate in his sleep. Not only does he do several solid kickflips in the flats, he does them over a tube, a dock, wake to wake and even variations of a kickflip. He also has many shuvit variations on the lip of the wake, wake to wake tricks and some solid work on the rails. This kid is blowing up and is still so young. One of his many combos include a wake to wake kickflip followed by a kickflip in the flats. Did I mention that Hampson can kickflip?

Jim Leatherman
I’m not sure if Jim chose to follow Danny Hampson’s section or if it just worked out that way, but he had some big shoes to fill after Hamspon blew up all over my TV screen. He does a nice job of follwing up Hampson with a totally different style of riding and a one crazy song. Letherman works the rails hard with long frontside slides and slides into shuvits. He also does some big ollies over gaps and docks and some nice big reentry shuvits off the lip. His lipticks are smooth and solid and he does a big shuvit to indy from the inside out.

Drew McGuckin
McGuckin has been featured in several other films throughout his career and is still going as big as ever on his skate. Drew gets crazy on the wake with one-foot tail grabs, wake to wake body varials and big 180s into the flats. He also throws in some of his big signature kickflips off of lip of the wake and some reentry shuvits.

Thomas Horrell
Thomas will once again amaze you as he unloads his array of tricks in such an effortless manner. This guy does not waste one second of time on the water as he is constantly doing tricks. The effect that he has on the sport is obvious in his section because of the way he finds new adventures to embark on with his wakeskate. Besides the traditional stuff behind the boat, Thomas takes his skating to small ditches and canals with huge gaps and ledges that he slides, ollies, and just takes them on like he is on a mission to show just how far he can take this wakeskate thing. Noseslides to shuvit out, huge ollies over gaps and off of ledges, handrails, phenomenal work on the wakes, this guy makes it look too easy. His riding is truly inspirational and is a glimpse into the future of the sport of wakeskating. Thomas also does a few kickflips in his section and does some riding behind The Winch.

Aaron Reed
After watching the first four riders on this video totally rip, the only way to still be amazed by the last guy is to make that last guy’s section Aaron Reed’s. Reed’s board control and the technical mastery that he displays will make you never doubt that something is impossible to do without being connected to the board. Reed takes wakeskating to a whole new level by doing the biggest and cleanest tricks you could possibly imagine. None of his landings are sketchy and nothing he does looks as if he got lucky. Frontside boardslides to 270 shuvits off of rails, kickflips from the inside out, more huge gaps and ledges and the most perfect wake to wake kickflip every captured on film. Aaron can take any aspect of wakeskating and push it beyond the limits. Some highlights from Aaron’s section include his beautiful wake to wake kickflip, several backside lipslides on rails with shuvits off, shuvits onto rails into shuvits off, liptrick combos and a very cool looking backside bigspin. As I mentioned before, Reed was the perfect rider to sum up Sfumato.

The only complaints I had about Sfumato was that my copy is on VHS, so I didn’t have the ability to watch frame by frame the several times I said, “Whoa! What the hell did he just do”? And, the fact that the riders rarely wear life vest in the film was another turn off.

If you wakeskate, have wakeskated once before or even just found out what a wakeskate is, then this video is a must buy. It is truly one of the best “wake” videos that I have ever seen. I can’t say enough about the riding in this film. With a showcase of riding like the guys put on in this video; the good music, cool editing effects and extra off the water footage is an added bonus. The raw unedited footage of just the riding in this video alone would have been enough for me to add it to my video library. Go buy this video.

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