Tectonics festival 2016 
Day 1

Sat 7 May, City Halls and Fruitmarket, Glasgow

4 stars

Claire Sawers

‘Make some noise’, read the acid yellow tote bags spotted around the Merchant City this weekend. It’s the mission statement for the fourth Tectonics Glasgow, an unstuffy and audacious, multipolar festival of experimental music, bringing together the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and sound artists, for avant-garde adventures in noise.
Saturday’s opening concert, Jitterbug, originally written for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company by Annea Lockwood, dripped, chimed and bubbled through the auditorium, as field recordings played through suspended microphones and speakers. Lockwood’s ‘interpretation of geological time’, with its digitised cicadas and jungle exhales, saw musicians take cues from images of patterned rocks, rather than sheet music. It was a less dystopian wander around Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 wasteland in Stalker; a meditative, pindrop piece introducing a big festival theme, the soft melting of musical boundaries, and an invitation for composers, artists and the audience to play around with conventions.

Elsewhere audiences were immersed in noise, with in-the-round performances and surround sound acoustics in the Fruitmarket and City Hall, both balconies spilling out celestial choir song, booming orchestral bass drums and thunderclap percussion. Catherine Kontz’s multi-textured, surprise-loaded Fruitmarket mimicked market vendors’ calls while Laurence Crane’s Cobbled Section After Cobbled Section was deceptively sparse, a beautifully ebbing ambient work, before Concealed Unity, climaxing with the astonishing, experimental vocal of Jessika Kenney, drifting down from somewhere near the Grand Hall’s ceiling.
Ethereal reveries conjured upstairs were then expertly smashed downstairs by underground guitar hero, Andy Moor of the Ex, building a muscular wall of squall behind Anne-James Chaton’s mesmerising monotone, reading aloud in deadpan French. Finally, the wild, joyful polyrhythms of Ollie and Laurie Pitt of Golden Teacher induced a multi-coloured high for the Saturday-night closer, using congos, deconstructed clarinets, loops and morphing beats to batter the crowd into a euphoric pulp.