Review: Conny Plank: The Potential of Noise
A documentary by Reo Caduff and Stephen Plank.
UK release August 2018.
The children of rock musicians famously have an odd life as they grow up. But what would it be like if your dad was the producer Konrad ‘Conny’ Plank? His pioneering sound design started what became known as ‘kraut-rock’ or ‘neue deutsche welle’ and paved the way for a revolution in rock and electronic music in the seventies and eighties. The Eurythmics, Ultravox, Underworld, The Scorpions and even the New York hip-hop act Houdini all worked with him. After initially working with Kraftwerk and Neu!, he built a studio on a farm, where bands didn’t so much record, as go to live for days or even weeks. Sadly, Conny Plank died at 47, and left behind a 13 year-old son, Stephen. A quarter of a century later, Stephen tracks down many of the musicians he saw coming and going as a young boy, to talk to them about their music and his dad. We soon begin to see that this wasn’t the closest of father/son relationships, and the film becomes a way of Stephen trying to get to know more about a father who was completely obsessed with, and immersed in, his work.
Together with Reo Caduff, son Stephen has documented his emotional and intimate journey across continents to talk to musicians who are still in awe of Conny Plank. The film sets the music in context and showcases for the world what a studio genius Plank was, and at the same time brings him some belated, but much deserved wider recognition.
Words: Mark Perkins