Not so much a love letter to, as brilliant mix-tape of, Glasgow indie music, this is a documentary that is worth investing in, because it’s not purely nostalgic-the label on which it’s based, Chemikal Underground, is still evolving and producing amazing things: as all indie fans know, CU have never been one to take it too easy. This is a film which acknowledges the cream of the past, while looking to the future. Current artists such as RM Hubbert and the mighty Holy ‘taps aff’ Mountain are heavily featured in incredible live segments.
Written and directed by Irish film maker Niall McCann, the transformative energy of music, sweat and ‘much bawbaggery’ crackles in the air. The opening images feel like a harkening back to the cut-and-paste aesthetics of DIY fanzines, but this is quickly tempered by Julian Schwanitz’s gorgeous cinematography of some of the finest musicians’ return to the genteel Mauron in rural France, where they first played the Momo Club in 1997.
Contributors Emma Pollock, Stewart Henderson, Paul Savage, RM Hubbert and many others, are endlessly endearing company, squashing the ‘rawk’ cliches with humour and intelligence.Some anecdotes are only just repeatable. The sleepy French setting (contrasting the raw early footage of The Karelia, Bis and Mogwai on Glasgow stages) makes for a trip that feels like a family excursion, such is the warm intimacy with which the film is shot.
But that’s not to say the downside to the industry is ignored. Label co-founder and erstwhile member of the Delgados, Stewart Henderson, rails against the problems facing indies- where the predominance of mainstream/ download culture has made any fledgling bands struggle in the face of larger corporations.
In the main, though, the voices of these creative outsiders ring out joyfully, lucid and true. Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and RM Hubbert in particular puncture the pomposity of ‘art rock’. Alex Kapranos chides Glasgow posers from this generation- ‘nineteen year olds dressed like dickheads’- before adding with a chuckle,’ just like I was’. And Mogwai Fear Satan is still a beast.
Screening as part of Glasgow Film Festival on 21st and 22nd February, before hitting cinemas all over Scotland. See websites below for further details