An event organised by long-standing pop culture terrorists The Creeping Bent Organisation, this started with a film in the cinema downstairs at CCA. Grant MacPhee has made several great documentaries about the Scottish alternative music scene (‘The Big Music’, ‘Teenage Superstars’) but this was more like a mini-feature, shot in impressionistic style with many repeated sequences and ritualistic symbols. The soundtrack was provided by CB overlord Douglas MacIntyre, along with Paul Turnbull and Samuel Joseph Smith – 10 instrumentals which form the ‘Speed of Life’ soundtrack album and sound like The Velvet Underground on a particularly heavy acid trip, with the visuals looking more like The Monkees’ ‘Head’ versus ‘The Wicker Man’ – far out indeed!
Then it was upstairs to the all-seated main auditorium, where Blackhill Transmissions (leader Mark Scanlan, once of Kobra Audio Labs, on guitar/synth, joined by Gavin Laird – former Telstar Ponies and Macrocosmica guitarist – and Ponies/Porch Song Anthology/Superstar bassist Raymond Prior) gave us a brace of their hugely atmospheric tracks, mainly instrumental aside from a couple of spoken word interludes from Mark, one concerning the discovery of a mysterious body in rural Lanarkshire (true story – who knows?). The music and accompanying images evoked a mixture of gloomy, rural nostalgia coupled with unspecified threat – a heady combination and well worth checking out.
Raymond Prior also once of Telstar Ponies and Porch Song Anthology. Raymond was in Superstar too.
After a brief interlude Port Sulphur themselves appeared, MacIntyre on guitar/vocals flanked by others on drums, piano, bass, further guitar and backing vocals. Again images from MacPhee’s film were projected behind the band, although this time the soundtrack was live and was taken almost entirely from the first version of ‘Speed of Light’. There were retro sixties references in the riffs and choruses, along with a fair dose of post-punk guitar work and even the chorus of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ thrown in for good measure.
The lyrics touched on nostalgia along with regret, in other words echoing the themes of the images in the film. As well as all this, the shadow of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, a band MacIntyre is clearly still in thrall to even after all these years (well, aren’t we all?) and he outlined his own take on the VU in the one song encore, an extended version of ‘White Heat/White Light’ which was devastatingly effective.
Creeping Bent are a class act and we are very lucky to have them – left-field and challenging, but still warmly Scottish.