Something different is happening in music class today. There are no teachers or conventional instruments in sight. Instead, kids create riotous soundscapes on analog synthesizers, vinyl players and noise generators. In the spirit of Neil Armstrong’s iconic radio transmission from the moon—a recording that features in this film—the children are exploring uncharted possibilities in sound.
These sonic voyagers are part of the School of Noise, a touring experimental sound workshop based in London, where young people can learn about music on rare instruments. Former Pulp bassist Steve Mackey and ex-The Jesus and Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart have come together under the creative moniker Call This Number, recording the children’s genre-defying session.
“The creative process that flows from idea to action is instantaneous for children,” says Hart. “It’s not as direct or uninhibited for adults.”
“The unique aspect of School of Noise is that children are encouraged to experiment with music tools from an early age,” says Makey. “Douglas and I were both in bands, but I don’t think either of us saw a synth or drum machine until our late teens.”
School of Noise was recorded on multiple 1970s Sony Portapaks—one of the first generations of consumer video recording equipment. The format of the film is an aesthetic Call This Number developed in their London garage, where analog images and sound are mixed live, and they complete their filming by the end of an artist’s performance.
“Moving pictures and sound have gone hand-in-hand since the Lumière brothers filmed workers leaving a factory in 1895,” says Hart. “The relationship between film and music, in particular, is indivisible.”
Mackey says, “Some people write, some draw, but I guess music is the language that we’re both attracted to.”