The title Conny Plank – The Potential of Noise reveals the most important part of this informative documentary; Plank’s belief in the power of sound. In the opening scenes Plank suggests that all noise has the power to become music and this is explored throughout the documentary, focusing on Plank’s influence on music and artists throughout the 70s.
It follows Conny Plank’s son, Stephan, as he plans to discover more about his father and his legacy. Archive footage is woven between interviews with those that knew Conny, with successful effect. It’s clear, informative and offers a unique insight into the producer’s musical creations. Plank’s ability as a sound engineer and producer for some of the most successful music to come out of West Germany is shown to be something revolutionary as he worked with the likes of Neu, Eurythmics, Ultravox and Underworld, and pioneered the creation of electronic music and the Krautrock genre.
The admiration for Plank is explored to great effect through a variety of artists and producers. Whilst the subject of the documentary is niche and will appeal hugely to those with an interest in the development of electronic music, there is an air of nostalgia throughout the film from Stephan and the interviewees, offering a warm, personalised touch. The interviewees are interesting and unique, offering meaningful and intelligent insights into Plank. The audience are given an understanding into production and mixing techniques, demonstrating his ability to experiment with sound and create something new and unique from other genres.
The documentary works chronologically through his career documenting his work with an array of artists. Whilst this offers an insight into the different ways he worked, it starts to feel a little stagnant as the repeat of ‘archive footage and photographs accompanied with interview’ becomes repetitive. Though this is accessible to all audiences, the format which solely explains Plank’s techniques and brilliance may be lost amongst audiences as a cinematic experience. A small section of the film reveals Plank’s flaws as a father, appearing to have little interest in his son, but this is explored minimally and whilst the ending reveals some footage of them together, it feels slightly unresolved.
Overall, this documentary provides an interesting insight into the development of German music and demonstrates Plank’s profound influence on electronic music, with interesting interviews from the likes of Underworld and Eurythmics. However, the documentary’s format becomes a repetitive cycle of photos and interviews which prevents it from appealing to a wider audience.
See it at the Showroom Cinema on Thursday 30 August at 8.00pm.
Image Credit: Movie DB.