While this rollicking comedy about musical terrorists cleverly satirizes movie conventions of cops and capers, the creative crimes look and sound wonderfully unique.
The musical backgrounds of both the law and the disorder are amusingly set up. Police detective Amadeus Warnebring (a droll Bengt Nilsson) is the tone deaf, silence-seeking, black sheep of his classically attuned family. His parents have always despaired about his lack of talent compared to his younger brother, a child prodigy. But who else on the police force could call off the bomb squad from a suspicious ticking van because he recognized the beat of a metronome?
On the other side of the tracks, thwarted conceptual artists Sanna (Sanna Persson Halapi) and Magnus (Magnus Borjeson) are in a derelict warehouse prepping their protest art project, the magnum opus “Music for a City and Six Drummers.” (The unconventional score is mapped out in animated staves.) Like any complicated crime caper, they first have to round up a gang of Oceans 11-like specialists from their more humdrum routines. The drummers, all of whom collaborated with writers/directors Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson on their entertaining short “Music For One Apartment and Six Drummers” (2001) that inspired this debut feature, stage a fearsome, sweaty percussive battle to determine who gets first chair.
By the time the rebels perform their first movement, “Doctor Doctor Give Me Gas (in My Ass),” using beeping and bleating equipment in a hospital, Amadeus is hot on their trail. When taking over a bank, the masked invaders announce to their captive audience: “Listen Up! This is a gig! We’re only here for the music!” In this second movement, “Money 4 U Honey,” the rhythmic shredding of money, amidst the clanging and thumping of office equipment, is a terrific satire of the financial crisis, even if the Swedish krona isn’t tanking with the euro.
Amadeus crosses paths with Sanna at a music store and follows leads to the very conservative conservatory where she and the composer caused a ruckus as students. The two parts of his life crash together like cymbals (and symbols) when he arrives in time to witness the audience panic caused by their third movement, “Fuck the Music! (Kill! Kill!),” at the normally staid concert hall where his brother is conducting Haydn’s Surprise Symphony. By the time he figures out the location of their daring grand finale overlooking the city, where their bodies hang from transmission lines like notes on a staff (in a Mission Impossible spoof), he’s wholeheartedly involved with their dissident, and dissonant, sounds, plus falling for Sanna. (There’s a post-credit warning: “This is a work of fiction. Don’t try this at home—Electricity kills!”) Only now can he share an appreciation of music with his brother through a concluding tribute to John Cage.
The sound design team spent a year collecting over 20,000 technological and mechanical sound files of the modern urban environment to merge into the band’s indoor and outdoor musique concrète pranks. They are like the aural equivalent of Banksy’s street art (as seen in Exit Through the Gift Shop), and are even more fun. These attacks make you tap your toes while you’re laughing at the humanistic story that raises our consciousness about the many sounds around us.