Unsure of what to expect we made our way to Glasgow’s alternative art’s venue, The Tramway, for a special performance as part of Glasgow’s Film Festival. Margaret Salmon’s visuals were being screened alongside live sounds from fresh SAY Award winners, Sacred Paws, which was then followed by somewhat of a gig in one of the rooms in the venue, which more recently hosted the Turner Prize. Now this was one I held a great degree of uncertain anticipation for, knowing the band and their talents, but having no clue as to the work of Salmon, who in this instance was screening Mm. The highlight was indeed the gig afterwards from the post-punk gals.
Commissioned for Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival in 2017, Mm is a film about language, masculinity and speedway racing but was unfortunately lacking in engagement and colour balance, which it was difficult to ascertain whether this was deliberate or not. Shot on location on 35mm film in collaboration with the all-male motorcycle team, the Berwick Bandits, Mm subtly weaves through the team and the crowd, with a prominent shade of green affecting the entire short film, which seems to be over in no time at all.
In the build to the bikes hitting the speedway, Rachel Aggs, evocatively used her vocal to give us things that begin with the letter M, inspired by the visual on screening, “men, male, masculinity” before hitting us with “motherf**king speedway” and then kicking into the track that they had composed to sit alongside the more exciting element of the film, which was in itself perhaps a touch on the repetitive but enhanced by their noises.
I cannot but help feel that the success of From Scotland With Love inspired this collaboration, but unfortunately the footage is lacking in the richness of footage that was there with Virginia and Grant’s film. The exploration of this piece is in itself interesting and the collaborative process for both Salmon and Scared Paws was no doubt progressive. However, it just failed to engage me in this instance and I was relieved to see that the band, after a break, went into a performance of their acclaimed calypso-punk, including tracks such as Strike a Match and Nothing. However, even then the venue let them down slightly with the sound.
Photos courtesy of Kat Gollock.
For more on the Glasgow Film Festival 2018 and its programme click here.