Modified Casio keyboard by Tablebeast
Noise may not be to everyone’s taste (in fact by definition noise is classed as “unwanted” sounds) but to the hardcore few it’s a way of life. This documentary follows some of those artists and shows them performing live, often on homemade or radically modified kit, and talking about the philosophy and influences behind their work. You won’t have heard of many of these performers but that’s the point - they are not in it for fame or money, they are simply following their muse in as unhindered a way as possible.
Most of the artists featured in People Who Do Noise are based in Portland, Oregon, and here’s a bit more info via the site filmbaby:
The film takes a very personal approach, capturing the musicians working alone with no interference from a live audience. What often took place in crowded basements or dark smoky venues was stripped bare for the cameras, providing an unprecedented glimpse of the many different instruments and methods used.
Covering a wide range of artists and styles, the film features everything from the absurdist free-improvisations of genre-pioneers Smegma, to the harsh-noise assaults of Oscillating Innards and everything in between. Many of the artists in the film, such as Yellow Swans and Daniel Menche, have performed and sold records all over the world. In spite of such successes, noise music remains one of the least understood and most inaccessible of genres.
OK, so most of this is pushing at the very boundaries of what we call “music”, but that’s pretty much the point. Casual observers (and listeners) may not make it very far into this doc because of, well, the noise, but it’s worth resisting the urge to skip forward as you may miss some very interesting interview footage. While some of these performers come across as pretentious, regardless of what you think of the sounds they create you can’t help but admire their freedom and lack of constraints: