The Sound of Noise

A Swedish film about music, noise, silence and percussion in unusual circumstances. A group of six percussionists uses a city to give an unforgettable performance in four movements of a conceptual piece called Music for One City and Six Drummers.

In the first movement, Doctor Doctor, they use an operating theater complete with the body of an unconscious patient. The filmmakers made him a pretentious and self-important TV presenter to avoid creating any audience sympathy.

In Money for u Honey, they take over a bank complete with balaclavas and weapons (a metronome) in a twist on the traditional heist, making music with keyboards, stamps, shredder and all the other things you used to find behind the teller window. The setting is roughly late 80s, early 90s so lots of work is still done manually, which makes for great noise.

Fuck the Music is astonishing. They advance on a concert hall where high society has gathered for some Haydn with an excavator, a couple of bulldozers and a jack hammer, and the result is rhythmic mayhem. (I like this movement best because I’ve always had a weak spot for excavators. I’d love to have one of those miniature excavators from Japan so I could dig to my heart’s content.)

Then, Electric Love, where they take over one of those huge transformer stations, and play music on the wires to astonishing effect.

The Sound of Noise is genius. I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s something of a plot involving a policeman who yearns for silence, but it pales in comparison with the percussion and the whole concept of playing a city.

The same filmmakers and percussionists made this classic short film about 10 years ago: Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers.