review

Sacred Paws, Ela Orleans and Current Affairs at Mono, Glasgow, 27 January 2017

Summer comes to Glasgow on a chilly January night. Mono's packed and there's a buzz in the air. Current Affairs (formerly Seconds) have a touch of the goff about them, in look and sound (think Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, The Smiths, Magazine) but the determined grind of their rhythm section gets the blood going and they've melodies in spades. It's a compelling start to a flawless evening of live music.

Current Affairs

Current Affairs

Current Affairs

Current Affairs

Instead of taking us down the infernal paths she has followed of late, Ela Orleans opts to take a detour through especially hypnotic deep cuts from her back catalogue, bringing to mind a more ethereal Suicide and hints of later Coil at points. It's no mystery why Orleans has become a key figure in the Glasgow scene in recent years, the journeys she takes you on are never anything less than transportive, even when the set is deliberately more low-key than usual.

Ela Orleans

Ela Orleans

Ela Orleans

They crowd are really raring to go now and they aren't disappointed. Two versions of Sacred Paws play tonight, alternately -the core guitar, drums and dual vocals of Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers, and a special five-piece version with additional guitar, bass and keyboards (provided by Lewis Cook of Happy Meals). Both are brilliant. You can hear their previous band Golden Grrrls in the sound, with a heavy dash of The Raincoats (who they played a few gigs with last year) and West African highlife. It's a heady mix, and just what we all need right now. What happens in Mono tonight is a coming together of people, and their respective genders, sexualities, colours, ages and countries of origin are inconsequential. They're together, in this amazingly uplifting music. This gig is the anti-Trump, the anti-May, the anti-Brexit. There's no anger in it, grins abound. It's how things should be all the time. And it proves it's possible. And it's pretty easy, at that. A night worth remembering, in more ways than one.

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws' debut album Strike a Match is out now on Rock Action.

Photos by Erika Sella. Text by Andrew R. Hill.

Ben Wheatley's 'A Field in England'

Ben Wheatley is back with A Field in England: having loved his twisted and very funny previous offering (Sightseers), this was a film the staff at Blasted were very much looking forward to.

And what a release it was – in a unique and brave move, the film was simultaneously in cinemas, on television, as well as being available on DVD and VoD. A pretty successful strategy,  according the numbers recently released on the Screen Daily website.

Image courtesy of the BFI. 

Image courtesy of the BFI. 

A Field in England is, in the words of Wheatley, an attempt at making a 'wilfully strange […] midnight movie'. As I watching the film in Edinburgh's Cameo cinema last Friday, I was reminded of the Panic Movement films (Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo in particular): it is a psychedelic period drama that is not afraid of playing with form and perceptions.

On a very basic level, it is the story of four men who finds themselves abducted by an alchemist during the English Civil War. The film starts slowly, the script feels a little opaque, and not much is explained – it is easy to see why a viewer could quickly get frustrated. Indeed, A Field in England is not a work that will ever have mass appeal, but if one is willing to stick with it, it has some pretty wonderful rewards. It is shot in a glorious, at times almost ravishing, black and white that glorifies texture and lines (something that we maybe wouldn't expect from a psychedelic film); with its mix of traditional folk music and menacing synth/ambient sounds, it is also very interesting on an aural level. Like many of the 1960s/70s 'midnight movies' Wheatley mentions, this film is formally rather daring – we have a character singing traditional ballad Baloo My Boy straight to camera, and the narrative is disrupted by little tableaux where the characters are very still, and create an effect that is almost painterly. This is without mentioning the 10-minute 'bad trip' sequence near the end; although at times it verges on visual cliché, it is something powerful, and not necessarily all that easy to watch. Ultimately though, A Field in England doesn't take itself too seriously; as in Sightseers, moments of humour (and of, quite literally, toilet humour) abound. It should also be noted that he protagonists are all played by actors who are known to the majority of the public for comedy, with Reece Shearsmith and Michael Smiley pulling particularly striking performances. It has to be said that character development is not the film's greatest strength, although the multi-layered aspect of the script could definitely benefit from multiple viewings.

Ben Wheatley has put together something rather unique a possible quite divisive; for all its indulgence, A Field in England is a film that defies genre definition (as far as period dramas go, its closest relative is perhaps Brownlow/Mollo's monochrome docudrama Winstanley) and makes a virtue out of  representing  sheer madness and chaos.

A Field in England is available on DVD on VoD.

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