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Various Artists Cashback Soundtrack Review

Soundtrack. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Classically-accented score is complemented by a cleverly eclectic handful of songs.

Michael Quinn 2009

Guy Farley's soundtrack for cult short-turned-award-winning feature Cashback is sweet, sensitive, subtle and sophisticated. Hauntingly gorgeous to boot, it also serves to confirm him as one of the most promising film composers to have emerged in the last decade.

Cashback began life as a quirky 19-minute short in 2004, won awards at 15 international film festivals and picked up an Oscar nomination. That success, and the support of a sizeable online fan base, led to a much-anticipated feature-length version. And, happily, to Farley's delightfully beautiful score.

There's something tantalisingly disembodied about this diaphanous, gossamer-light music. Which is appropriate enough, given the film charts the life of broken-hearted, insomnia-stricken Ben, who kills time by working the late-night shift at his local supermarket, where his artistic, sleep-deprived imagination begins to run wild.

Farley's score employs a 45-piece orchestra augmented by hypnotically mournful slivers of solo piano and exotic chime and percussion overdubs. Shimmering, moonlit, lovelorn high strings are to the fore, with rumbling low-pitched bass forces providing a disconcerting undercurrent that ebbs and flows as the emotional temperature changes to almost narcotic effect.

Especially admirable is Farley's willingness to imbue the domestic and the mundane with something approaching heroic (but never overstated) grandeur and to imbue the whole with a touching (but never sentimental) tenderness. Full of interesting ideas and evocative touches, it exerts a darkly melodic, quietly mesmeric pull.

Farley's classically-accented score is complemented by a cleverly eclectic handful of songs. Highlights include feisty 60s soul girl-group, The Gypsies' Jerk It, Grand Avenue's intoxicating, gravity-free ballad She, Swedish indie outfit The Concretes with the bustling, brass-laden You Can’t Hurry Love (no, thnankfully, not a cover of that one!), UK duo Evil 9's breakbeat-laced Snack Bar Lounge, and Malente's magnificent Funk the Rich.

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