City Halls, Glasgow

Keith Bruce, five stars

THERE was much I was unable to catch at this year’s Tectonics weekend curated by the BBC SSO’s Principal Guest Conductor Ilan Volkov and Counterflows artistic director Alasdair Campbell, including any performance by the orchestra. But I shall treasure my time there fondly for the unforgettable performance of Tetsuya Umeda. The Japanese sound-artist, equally at home in a gallery or improvising group, made a sonic installation in the Old Fruitmarket that was a riveting experience. His live chemistry and physics set involved a shopping trolley, stainless steel buckets, catering-sized tin cans, goldfish bowls, electric hobs, a horn and a few bottles, with power from a car battery as well as the mains. To these he added water, dry ice, and other ingredients (presumably none of them noxious in view of the audience proximity) and amplified the results. This was John Cage’s performance piece Water Walk taken as a starting point, with the theatrical practice of composer Heiner Goebbels a way mark on the road. Apparently it has taken the Tectonichaps years to get him to Scotland, and I can’t overstate how pleased I was that they did.

On any other Saturday, Nathalie Forget and her ondes Martinot would, have stolen the show with her performance of Bernard Parmegiani’s Outremer, which demonstrated how the proto-synthesiser we sometimes hear in an orchestral context is capable of so much more than being an exotic addition to the score. Her Old Fruitmarket performance, in all its retro-gear gorgeousness, was followed by Joe Posset’s Grand Dictaphone Jaxx for Four Players in which the composer was joined by duo Acrid Lactations and performer Ant Macari, sporting a dubious head-wound and with a destructive attitude to his own clothes. The dictaphones, which were hard to see, were latterly superseded by megaphones, which were both very visible and audible.

In the Grand Hall between those performances, Anton Lukoszevieze played the world premiere of Lithuanian composer Rytis Mazulis’s cello and tape work, Solipse, whose extreme minimalism illustrates the solipsism of creativity just as he intended. But only, Tectonics teaches, on his specific path.