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INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES

Record Collector OCTOBER 2018 - by Kevin Harley

CONNY PLANK: THE POTENTIAL OF NOISE

Travels in sound, from Autobahn to Vienna

Considering how influential his work has been, it's a wonder this is the first major documentary on Conny Plank, the pioneering producer whose CV ranged from Neu! and Kraftwerk to Ultravox and Underworld.

Linked by shared experiences of their fathers dying young, co-directors Reto Caduff and Stephan Plank, Conny's son, paint a detailed and loving portrait, even coming to terms with the fact that Conny's parenting skills didn't always match his sound-design wonders.

With Krautrock's emergence deftly elucidated, Stephan hits the road to meet dad's collaborators; of course, the driving scenes benefit from the pulsing soundtrack beneath his wheels. A rule-breaker of tremendous curiosity emerges through affectionate recollections from Michael Rother and two Scorpions, Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker; the latter wryly notes how a fondness for "a smoke" helped Conny bring life to precise music.

RC contributor David Stubbs pinpoints Conny's role in Kraftwerk's development, while DAF's Robert Gorl praises the "tranquil" air Conny brought to studios. With much eye-watering archive-footage viewed en route, Stephan speeds through the years via encounters with Devo's Gerald Casale, David A Stewart, Midge Ure and Karl Hyde, gesticulating widly as he recalls Conny's unorthodox inspiration on his fascination with the sound of language.

While a clear-sighted narrative is lacking, there's no shortage of on-screen love, both for Plank and the son who many artists last saw as a mere toddler. As his death looms and an elegiac air prevails, Stephan's wistful reflection on "memories pressed in vinyl" triggers waves of warmth for a genial trailblazer whose influence is often forgotten.


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