City Halls, Glasgow
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Seen on January 30
This isn't the first time Lau have used Celtic Connections - indeed, this very venue - as the place to dip a toe into classical waters. Two years ago, they collaborated with Northern Sinfonia on Strange Attractors, a fragmented, five-movement, 45-minute piece that had to move through some far-from-pretty early sections before revving up its recognisably Lau-fuelled engine.
I've no such reservations about this year's premiere, however: The Bell That Never Rang (composed and performed in conjunction with the Elysian Quartet and co-commissioned by Celtic Connections and PRSF New Music Biennial for Glasgow's Culture 2014 programme) was a melodic triumph for new experimental music at a supposedly traditional festival.
It began with a complex interweaving of strings and glissandos over the Reich-like rhythmic bounce of Kris Drever's guitar and the interplay between both disciplines was perfectly balanced, Lau assuming some unfamiliar chamber ensemble restraint while Scots fiddle snaps crept into the quartet's violin phrases.
The experience clearly shifted Lau up a gear for the rest of their set, which included a heartbreaking Ghosts, a soulful Far From Portland and a supercharged account of The Burrian.