Tonight the Glasgow Film Festival seeks to return the O2 ABC to its cinematic heyday, when once it was known as the ABC Regal, for an evening of collaborative works between film and live music, which endeavour to explore themes such as time, tide, love and loss.
The show begins just after six as Monoganan and eagleowl, both from the impressive roster of Scottish label Lost Map, take to the stage respectively to lend their sympathetic sounds to the projected images at the back of the stage.
Both acts provide splendid accompaniments, which level a great deal of intuition and respect toward the images on screen, however as eagleowl are given more material to work with, it is their performance that carries most weight.
The seafaring scenes of John Grierson’s ‘Granton Trawler’ are vividly interpreted by the band’s oscillating grooves, which fully bring to life the heaving trawler and crashing seas, while Norman McClaren’s beautifully colourful and abstract ‘Begone Dull Care’ (originally scored by the Oscar Peterson jazz trio) is treated to a disorienting clash of sounds.
Joe McAlinden is up next to provide subtle tones to ‘EDIT’, a short film he made in collaboration with Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, which was shot on location in Scotland.
The narrative focuses on a young woman who, by her own admission, has been running away for ten years; from what we are not sure although the sparse dialogue and lonesome scenery portray a mood of regret, sorrow and longing.
McAlinden’s haunting score reinforces these sombre feelings, however at times he uses his wonderfully expressive voice to offer glimmers of hope and acceptance.
Having previously recorded and released the soundtrack for the newly restored 1934 documentary ‘Man of Aran’, British Sea Power have proved themselves to be fine interpreters of historical film: a feat they prove once again with their score to Penny Woolcock’s ‘From the Sea to the Land Beyond’.
The film itself, from its opening shots of cascading waves and hovering gulls, is a stunning collection of old BFI archive footage, which depicts the once thriving leisure and industrial pursuits that once populated Britain’s coastlines.
With its scenes of bustling beaches strewn with smiling day-trippers and shipyards churning out vessels of massive proportions, it is a romantic ode to a time that only a few remember and that fewer still will likely see in the future.
British Sea Power conger this mix of pride and melancholy beautifully with their trademark brand of powerful, swooning material.
The distinct vocals of Jan Scott Wilkinson are kept to a minimum tonight as the poetic, lyrical quality of the images on screen provide more than enough narrative, thus enabling the band to commit to the job at hand.
By the time the last image of the encroaching sea has faded from view, the respectfully muted audience let their appreciation known with rapturous applause for all tonight’s collaborators that pulled off this fine marriage of sound and vision.
Words: Brendan Sloan
Photos: Jayjay Robertson