Best Christmas Album for Coal-Fired David Fincher Fans
By George Bass | 18 December 2008
Bugger me—my second Down Under blurb in almost as many minutes (well, I can’t help it if they precede In Ghost Colours with the most captivating thriller of two years ago). Yes, it may have taken a while to reach the import DVD machine, but Matthew Saville’s Noise is a cop drama gone ambient, mixing some Se7en-like scraping into a story of good/evil greyness. Brendan Cowell plays Constable Graham McGahan, the dope-smoking offbeat copper whose blackouts and tinnitus have earned him the short straw this Christmas: manning a drop-in Portakabin for survivors of a vicious subway blasting. While his colleagues get to enjoy their turkey and trimmings on the beach, McGahan gets to grips with a flurry of talkative locals, one of whom may be the shooter who escaped arrest at the station. But the tinnitus waits like a mugger for the cagey Constable McG, whose fraying blueboy routine is 7,931 miles from the grizzled Bruce Willises of the world. Unable to find respite even with his ear canals cupped, every distressed resident is a band-saw blade; every smashed bottle and gunshot a bomb.
Noise is a slow burner, but from the moment Maia Thomas jolts at the first of the dead ex-commuters, you’re glued. Bryony Marks’s gloomy score has plenty of jolts of its own too, with her atmospheric mists and piano cobwebs hiding those all-important chrysalises of hope. “Dean & Graham”’s twitchy keys scuttle through impossible fog, clearing for intro to “Their World” only to surface like the protagonist’s condition. And then there’s this: a final moment of lusciousness as McGahan watches his girlfriend in a TV orchestra, blowing through yuletide brass for a Salvation Army choir. Enjoy the tranquility before one of the most warped takes on the nativity scene you’ll ever witness; enjoy it for thirty seconds, anyway.