Workers holding hand-stitched banners march through city streets in black and white, cine-film staccato. Factory smoke mixes with morning fog over the Clyde or the docks at Leith. Vast boats are riveted together with white-hot bolts by sweat-drenched shipwrights. Couples step out, smiling, for Friday nights at dance-halls and fairgrounds. And over it all, the music and the voice of King Creosote, Fife's own shaggy monarch of folk, lays imagined stories of Scotland's social history.
This is From Scotland with Love, a film entirely consisting of archive footage of mid-20th century Scottish city life, compiled and directed by Virginia Heath with a soundtrack newly written and performed by the King himself. Originally commissioned for the 2014 commonwealth games, it’s a gorgeous, yearning collaboration, and one for which King Creosote, real name Kenny Anderson, will be providing a live soundtrack at this year’s International Festival.
Anderson took some time to explain a little about the process of bringing the film together: "Once Virginia had identified the themes she wanted to explore, I got to watch a few full-length archive films to get ideas for songs, my brief being to bring a few of the myriad of characters to life. A lot of the detail in the film was cut to the lyrics."
The ideas that came to him, the characters and locations drawn out by his songs and then fed back into the film, have created some more upbeat and wholeheartedly carefree numbers than long-time King Creosote fans might have come to expect. There are songs like ‘Cargill’ that bring home the fear and bittersweet reunions of fishermen with their wives, who have lived with "the dread of counting home the fleet". But against this there are also tracks like ‘Largs’, with their more homely, holiday vistas of caravan parks and 99 Flakes, as well as the demob-happy single ‘For One Night Only’.
Reckoning that the two screenings of From Scotland with Love at the Hub, which will see him accompanied by a 13-piece live band, "will be more than enough King Creosote for this year’s festival", Anderson suggests they may be the only chance to see him in the city this August, when he’ll also be spending some time in the studio.
So whether or not you manage to snap up a ticket to one of these two performances, which promise to be some of the month’s undoubted musical highlights, it’s good to know that there’s more King Creosote on the way, and soon: "Once the pollen count dies down again I can stop lamenting over my dislike of July and get back to writing those spiky three-minute pop songs I'm renowned for."