Morvern Callar - incredibly diverse, richly rewarding

Review by Jack Foley

MUSIC plays an inegral part of Morvern Callar, Lynne Ramsay's acclaimed follow-up to Ratcatcher, forming a kind of 'life soundtrack' for its central protagonist (Samantha Morton).

It is little wonder, therefore, that the soundtrack appears to have been meticulously assembled to reflect the different stages of its central character's journey, drawing on all sorts of references to create one of the most diverse, challenging and surprising movie accompaniments of the year.

This is an album which has something to suit all tastes - no matter how diverse or off the wall. Writer, Alan Warner, is a huge fan of kraut rocker Holger Czukay, a well-known 'sonic experimentalist', so it is little wonder that his work appears in two forms - both as a solo artist and two with his band, Can. Yet it is during these moments that the album seems least accessible, shying too far from the mainstream to really make much of an impression.

Elsewhere, however, the diversity can be richly rewarding, with the likes of Aphex Twin and Stereolab mixing well with the not-so-well-known Boards of Canada or Lee 'Scratch' Perry. The Boards of Canada track, Everything You Do Is A Balloon, is a particularly haunting slice of breakbeat chillout, ideally suited to the type of movie that is Morvern Callar. Moody, melancholic, yet somehow uplifting, this is easily one of the stand-out tracks on the album.

The soundtrack offers an interesting contrast to some of the club-orientated tie-ins of recent films, without ever turning its back on it, making it an intelligent collection of beats and quirks, rather than a mere attempt at a cash-in (not that this is a bad thing, in moderation).

Yet for every tip-toe around the mainstream, the soundtrack also delivers its fare share of quirks; never more so than during the Velvet Underground's juvenile I'm Sticking With You, Ween's off-kilter Japanese Cowboy (the only track which feels genuinely out of place) and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's Some Velvet Morning, which is a classic delight.

Broadcast's plodding You Can Fall is another lazy/hazy dream of a song, while the aforementioned Lee 'Scratch' Perry's Hold Of Death is an enticing collection of reggae-inspired loops, set around another laidback beat.

The soundtrack is rounded off with Aphex Twin's surreal Nannou, which is a near-perfect way of rounding things off. For this is unlike any other listening experience you are likely to have this year.

Track listings:

1. I Want More - Can
2. Goon Gumpas - Aphex Twin
3. Everything You Do Is A Balloon - Boards Of Canada
4. Spoon - Can
5. Blue Milk (edit) - Stereolab
6. I'm Sticking With You - Velvet Underground
7. You Can Fall - Broadcast
8. Gamelan Drumming
9. Cool In The Pool - Holger Czukay
10. Hold Of Death - Lee "Scratch" Perry
11. Some Velvet Morning - Lee Hazlewood
12. Japanese Cowboy - Ween
13. Fragrance - Holger Czukay
14. Nannou - Aphex Twin

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