The documentary The Heart Is A Drum Machine attempts to answer that question. Don’t understand the question? Then you don’t understand music. That might sound harsh, but if you listen to a few minutes of the documentary you’ll find that many of the interviewees would actually feel sorry for you.
Much of The Heart Is A Drum Machine is driven by a series of interviews of a who’s who of the music world, as well actors and scholars. From John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) to Billy Morrison (The Cult) to Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), each person interviewed gives or tries to give their answer to the question ‘why music’.
The silliest response I thought was “music is the house that sound lives in.”
But sometimes there isn’t an answer, which you see as some people simply staring into the camera with blank stares or frustrated headshakes. No two people give the same answer. Brian Aubert (Silversun Pickups) describes how natural music is human beings; starting from birth the fetus is constantly hearing the mother’s heartbeat, hence the documentary’s title.
Not everyone thinks of music as some sort of transcendence. A few brave souls state the obvious that music is all about sex and getting laid, although they couldn’t say it with a straight face.
Mini featurettes are interspersed throughout the documentary as well. They serve little bits of knowledge as it relates to music. There’s a scene where Ann Druyan describes her participation in the Voyager Interstellar Mission and the Golden Record that contains sounds of the Earth. There’s also a scene that describes a breakdown of how sound travels through legendary audio engineer Eddie Kramer’s ears. An odd scene is a doctor validating the existence of the broken heart syndrome, since the doctor really didn’t connect a broken heart to music.
Directed by Christopher Pomerenke and scored by Steven Drozd (The Flaming Lips), The Heart Is A Drum Machine is a pleasant documentary that gives a variety of opinions to the power and purpose of music on the human experience.
The only special features included on the DVD are a theatrical trailer and the full July 16, 2008 interview with John Frusciante.
Note: Article first published as “DVD Review: The Heart Is A Drum Machine” on Blogcritics.org.
[images via Sneak Attack Media]