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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Beautiful Noise', shoegaze me

Beautiful Noise
Beefeater In-Edit 2014, Chapter III

The third documentary seen at this year’s Beefeater In-Edit was another easy choice. To my knowledge 'Beautiful Noise' is the first-ever documentary made on shoegaze/noise-rock of the late 80s-90s. Must-watch, again.

The merits of the film are many. Eric Green has created a relevant film from ground zero, working alongside producer Sarah Ogletree during almost a decade through their company HypFilms. Considering the DIY origins of the documentary (funded by a Kickstarter campaign), it's a great achievement they managed to arrange so many interviews with very big music names. But even more important than that, they have been capable of offering us a very solid and coherent work. It's clearly a work of passion for music.

The rise-disappearance-revival of shoegaze is well documented on the rockumentary, thanks to a straightforward chronological line but, foremost, by the huge bulk of interviews. From Cocteau Twins to Chapterhouse, it's hard for me to remember who's missing in the picture (although my dearest one, the great Rachel Goswell, is not interviewed). There are in-depth cuts with Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie, The Jesus and Mary Chain's Jim Reid & Bobby Gillespie, Slowdive's Neil Halstead, Ride's Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, or My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, among many others. But there's also space for music giants like Robert Smith, Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan. Extremely impressive. The greatest moments are reserved to Reid and his controversial relation with fame/frustration for the band's lack of sales, and the unresolved war between Alan McGee, boss of Creation Records, and Kevin Shields. They were both right.     

So, the story of late century 'wall of sound' and musicians looking to their sneakers is the tale of a bunch of musicians who tried to subvert rock traditions without leaving guitars, looking for new sounds, atmospheres and introduce melody within the noise trying. Experiment and feel. They were ahead of their time, but they didn't find the success they were hoping for (Ride were the closest ones to achieve commercial support), so the pretty spontaneous movement faded away... until the digital era rescued them. 

Unfortunately, 'Beautiful Noise', except some situations like the ones referred before, lacks poignancy, debate, insight. Bands are utterly praised then simply glorified (can't put all bands in the same bag), and so is the revival (same applies). Besides, the film has too many minutes of empty visual fillers. We get it, it sort of connects with the ethereal, elusive music, but it's kind of lame. The overall feeling is that we are watching a formal, very correct but a bit monotonous documentary. The movie does makes a beautiful noise, but it's subdued.

SCORE: 6,25/10

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