It’s difficult to label what the group that the film Sound of Noise follows does. I guess it could be called art. Or music. But it’s closer to terrorism at first glance. Not so much the kind with religious endorsement. While dangerous, no one dies and no one blows themselves up on a bus. But it does invite a fair amount of chaos and there’s a humorous element to it as well.
Amadeus (Bengt Nelsson) is a tone deaf police officer. He’s the child of very successful classical musicians, and his little brother Oscar is a world famous conductor. Amadeus hates music. One day he’s called on to the scene of a crashed and abandoned van that is ticking, next to an embassy. A bomb is the feared reality, but it turns out to only be a metronome. Next, Amadeus is called to a hospital, where a man staying there had been wheeled into an operation room by a group of six people dressed like surgeons only to be gased, and used as an instrument.
The muscians/terrorists, all percussionists, used what was available to make a very catchy dance beat: beating the stout man’s stomach like a drum, tapping on oxygen tapes and pushing buttons on the electronic equipment. It’s wildly inventive, and quite funny. The group is led by a woman named Sanna (Sanna Persson). Her friend Magnus (Magnus Börjeson), who embraces music as much as Sanna (the more unconvential, the better) has written a piece of music called ‘Music for Six Drummers and One City.’
The piece involves four performances, each taking place in a different location, and utilizing different non-instruments for their music. Each movement is marked by subtitles, the first, which I just described, being ‘doctor doctor give me gas (in my ass)’, listen to it here. The next is called ‘Money 4 U Honey’, which takes place in a bank the group takes hostage, crying “Nobody move! This is a gig!”, and the music is largely made up of the sound of money being shredded.
The third is ‘Fuck the Music! Kill! Kill!’ which is certainly the most destructive of the four, involving large construction machinery and a jack hammer. The last movement is called ‘Electric Love’ which I’ll leave to be discovered. Amadeus uses his musical background to track down the musical terrorists and ends up falling in love with Sanna. But he has an ulterior motive once he finds that he can no longer hear the noise made by anything this outlaw band of musicians touches.
The soundwork here is quite brilliant, all the music sounds crisp and original. The way the film is broken up into what almost feels like episodes allows each musical piece to be considered separately, rather than in the context of a longer narrative. This allows attention to be called to how well each of them are conceptualized. Sound of Noise is outside the box, original and inventive it’s also hilarious, and extremely entertaining.
Sound of Noise is outside the box, original and inventive. It's also hilarious, and extremely entertaining. The film is one of SFIFF's highlights.