One of the most unique films I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at Fantastic Fest this year (so far!) is the Swedish movie, “Sound of Noise.” It’s based on the short film “Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers” and starring a near identical cast. The short, presented before the feature, begins with a car full of people watching an apartment and, once an elderly couple leaves on a dog walk, they mark their watches, army-style and proceed to break into their domicile. Upon entering, they proceed through various rooms in the house performing small, percussive concerts utilizing everything they can get their hands on from beds, vacuum cleaners and egg slicers, to books, perfume bottles and lamp switches. Picture Stomp on the loose in an Ikea and you get the idea.
Writer/director duo of Olga Simonsson and Johannes Stärne Nilsson have taken this clever idea from their short and expanded it to feature length. The drummers, including Simonsson and Nilsson, and a motley crew of misfits most of whom are constantly kicked out of their day jobs for causing trouble of a musical sort. They decide to take their music to the streets in an effort to eliminate the bad music which is constantly pumped throughout the city via small, white speakers mounted on poles and fences like some kind of evil Muzak big brother. Blood-hounding their disruptive ways is a tone-deaf policeman, Amadeus Warnebring, who comes from a family of musicians, his brother being a notable conductor.
Performing four concerts in four areas, the crew’s opus, “Music for One City and Six Drummers,” advertises on posters throughout the city, cleverly naming each section, such as “Doctor Doctor Gimme Gas (In My A*s).” This first act is performed on a notable TV reporter who is admitted to a hospital for hemorrhoid surgery. Yes, on his body, slapping away on his chest, utilizing the the medical equipment to establish bleepy rhythms and using every bit of equipment in the operating room to produce an inspired, funky percussive. Subsequent performances go from what seems to be a bank robbery but ends up being a Herbie Hancock fueled jam with the teller’s stations, to a loud, bass heavy piece that utilizes heavy equipment, a jack hammer and and sledge hammers on a statue. The final section ends with the crew hanging on to power lines doing a somewhat beautiful composition, banging on the wires with metal pipes. While tracking these musical terrorists down, Warnebring, well played by Bengt Nillson, discovers that any items they touch for music he suddenly can’t hear the sounds produced by them. It’s an altogether strange sub-plot but one that works and helps to eventually wrap the story up.
When music is at the center of a movie its important for it to excel and in “Sound of Noise,” it does. Every session is a treat of varying rhythms, styles and sounds. For the musically inclined, this is a hard movie not to like. The premise is fresh and the execution is tight. I really hope “Sound of Noise” gets picked up and gets seen, as it’s fantastic film.