Music & Moving Images: Martyn Bennett, Elegies and Inspirations

Manipulate Festival

Traverse Theatre


2nd Feb


There has been a lot of publicity surrounding Martyn Bennett of late. I recently watched a beautiful documentary about the making of his final album ‘Grit’ which has really inspired me to find out more about his work so I was intrigued to see what creative gems would unearthed by the event billed as Music & Moving Images: Martyn Bennett, Elegies and Inspirations. It was however not quite what quite what I had imagined it to be. The night opened with a selection of films that had been made by students at Grey’s School of Art in Aberdeen in response to a selection of music by local bands. It had been screened in Aberdeen the night before, with the bands playing live at the event. This unfortunately was not the case in Edinburgh and without the musicians the imagery felt like a bad VJ loop that went on for far too long. The films appeared to be an experiment in the use of after effects and basic animation techniques. As a whole it felt long-winded, underdeveloped and lacking any substance or depth. A dissection of the films followed which left me realising that this was a student production where there seemed more emphasis on the process and technique than on the end content, which as an audience felt very frustrating.

Snowflake 4 - Xanthe and Lewis

The final two music videos by Neil Kepmpsell were visual explorations of pieces of music, this time by Martyn Bennet. The first ‘Hallaig’ incorporated the poem by Sorley MacLean describing the loss of a highland community. It is a dark and sobering arrangement and the imagery used is quite hypnotic, again using layers and texture to create echoes of ghosts of the past in this remote landscape. It’s quite beautiful (you can watch it on the link below) and was to me the only film I got anything from . His more recent film, Mackay’s Memories develops these themes further. In this film the techniques and style were interesting but it appeared very dated and heavy on what now look like quite cheesy special effects.

A long discourse took place afterwards with much back slapping and chin rubbing that felt very self-congratulatory and was almost oblivious to the audience. There was almost no time for questions or interaction from the audience and the concepts that I had imagined would be explored regarding the relationship between moving image and music was left for us to make up our own mind. I felt the title of the show was very misleading, riding on the creative wake of Martyn Bennett when in fact it held little (or for the majority of the event no) reference to the musician, and other than two music videos, shone no new light on his unique and creative approach to his art. I am very aware that films such as these are open to very personal interpretation but I felt the structure and presentation of this event was over zealously marketed as something that it wasn’t.

Reviewer : Glenda Rome


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