King Creosote photo credit Sean Dooley Hi Res
Photo by Sean Dooley

From Scotland With Love and King Creosote – Milton Court, London, 27th September 2014

Photo by Jason Williamson
Photo by Jason Williamson

Twice screened at the Barbican’s Milton Park, Virginia Heath’s From Scotland With Love, typically a plethora of Scots milling, about to indulge in music and footage to whet their nostalgic taste buds.  A live scoring of the film by Fife’s King Creosote, Kenny Anderson was on the agenda, a sensory treat for all eagerly sat in the audience. A furore in Scottish politics as of recent times has set the precedence of this gig rather courteously, in the same way that his Mercury Music Prize loss did his Make Diamond Mine gig, reminding us of this talented folk lyricist’s modesty, and homely connection.

The live soundtrack plus seven piece-band, which included sound designer for the film, David McAulay, was crisp, almost flawless, with zero banter, a new one for Kenny. Feeling almost like we are voyeuristically sat in the recording studio for the album, there is an uncomfortable wish to applaud this rendition of the score, which also touches on some of King Creosote’s back catalogue such as Favourite Girl, and 678. From Scotland With Love was out earlier in the year under Domino, when it was still the height of summer and Glasgow was beaming in its new found Commonwealth love. It was well-acclaimed with my only criticism being that the track lengths are too short (despite my awareness for film length restrictions).

However, listening to the record does not quite match this live rendition, as the fantastically nostalgic montage of Scotland, footage that does provide us all with the rose tinted shades, that we are all so often keen to hide behind, increases the textual layering, alleviating the fluency of Kenny Anderson’s soundtrack.

Witnessing a treasure of archival shots of demonstrations and protests particularly in impoverished areas like Glasgow throws us back to just over a week prior when the Scottish people were voting over their own autonomy and clarity of voice, hitting a nerve in those that have an invested interest. Alluding to the fundamentals of the campaign I was reminded of the spine of the Scottish people, their humour, unwillingness to settle and emotive passion.

Drawing upon much industry in Scotland, as well as leisure, even further nostalgic innocence of childhood, war and emigration, our eyes are draped in a washed out, saturated, grainy and often monochrome grade, which excretes a fond smile. Virginia Heath’s efforts are not to be sneered at either, as she conveys a Scotland not entirely befitting the stereotypes. With the addition of King Creosote’s needle-dropping score, belting out tracks like For One Night Only whilst fed images of the nightlife in the older twentieth century, stripped down and dancing, there is a weighty resonance in the Milton Court, which is difficult to evade. Rhythmically edited, Heath interjects these images with those of light bulbs rotating, retaining our interest with a variety of film and content, removing us from the previous scenes of economic hardship. Heath drags us on a journey of a wealth of emotions, a journey which we are more than willing to allow her to lead, our eyes and ears twinkling in synchronicity with mere nods at the more joyous sides to Scottish life.

With Amy MacDougall on backing vocals, Andy Robinson on drums, reminding us in a less than subtle manner about the live scoring, David McAulay on guitar, he has resounding list of Scottish talent on stage with him, collaborating magnificently to create a delicately vintage sound, perfectly juxtaposed with the images that confront us. With this effective balance between the visual and auditory I am not dumbfounded to witness the audience stand to applaud at the end of this cinematic and sonic marvel.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.