Barber Westchester Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Dylan Kanner
28 Jan 2022
Most of us have a favourite artist or at least favourite genre that we cuddle up to like a comfort blanket whenever we need music in our lives. A smaller portion of us listen to a wide variety of genres and are those annoying people who answer the question ‘what type of music do you like’ with ‘a bit of everything’. Even fewer of us have a soundtrack to our entire day encompassing everything from modern classical to doom metal and feel not so quietly confident that ‘we know music’. Well even that group are going to listen to Dylan Kanner’s soundtrack to the independent feature film Barber Westchester and know they have not heard anything like this before.
The Barber Westchester Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is no less than 74 tracks of minimalist, experimental electronica by Californian singer-songwriter Dylan Kanner. The record is in many, if not all, ways a film score rather than a soundtrack in the modern sense. You will find almost every sound bite used in the movie represented here. Everything from the 10 second Barber's Arm Get's Flushed Down the Toilet to the 3 and a half minute folk pop number For You (Barber Westchester Version).
Kanner draws us in to the musical madness with a surprisingly catchy and uplifting opener. Look Around (At the World Around You) has bouncy keys and sharp drums contrasting against Kanner's monotone vocals to make a fun, enticing introduction to the record. The biggest criticism of this opening track is that it ends just as we start singing along to the ascending chorus of Look Around. This could easily have been a minute longer to make it a legitimate song and it wouldn't feel like he only recorded exactly what was necessary for the opening credits.
Fortunately the flavour of Look Around carries over to a handful of other tracks scattered across this record. In Professor Lemmings's Song Kanner channels a grade school Lou Reed over a funky keyboard and kick drum. For You (Barber Westchester Version) employs acoustic guitar, varied percussion and adventurous backing vocals and really succeeds in making an interesting, 60's inspired pop song that we really should have more of. The albums closing track, Promised Land, also benefits from childlike and fun backing vocals against a grand finale composition of organ sounds, saxophone and guitar solos and a running commentary from Kanner.
Between these cheeky sing a long numbers however are endless short snippets of music that, out of context from the movie, do very little for the listener and don't make a great deal of sense. Some of these 10 or 20 second pieces are little more than a sound effect or a short keyboard progression. Some tracks, such as Email from NASA, show real promise that they could have been developed in to something we want to listen to more than once but for whatever reason the decision was made to not develop these further.
This soundtrack oozes with potential that is completely lost in an ocean of poor decisions. I don't understand who Kanners target audience is for this record. There are songs here but they are so spread out and tangled up in confusion that most listeners will not find them. My advice would have been to take the handful of good songs and release it as a soundtrack EP or develop a handful of the better shorter tracks and make a 10 track album. I'm not sure even fans of the motion picture are going to want to listen to this record away from their screens. Take a listen yourself and let me know what you think.