Cycles - Mr McFall's Chamber with Thomas Strønen
Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, Wed 12 November
Midway through the second set of this collaboration between Scotland’s equivalent of The Penguin Café Orchestra and Norwegian percussionist Thomas Strønen, an ebullient bike instructor comes up onstage to demonstrate how to change a puncture. His record’s four minutes flat, though here, as he’s brought the wrong equipment with him, we can forgive him the extra mile.
There’s a total community vibe in a hall made up of saddled-up cycle enthusiasts, here to talk two-wheelers for the cycle fair preceding this very special concert, and a healthy smattering of Mr McFall’s groupies who delight in everything they do. You can see why, as they settle into a series of charmingly erudite renditions of works composed largely by Stronen for string quartet, percussion and electronics, and based around a lateral idea of cycles both in terms of forward motion and life forces. Unsurprisingly there’s much repetition at play over the two sets, which move from the jaunty to the meditative as they look to the spirits of Glenn Gould and Philip Glass for comfort.
Stronen drives (rides) all this with understated propulsion, with the two works composed by Mr McFall’s members - Rick Standley’s 'Cycle Scenes' and Brian Schiele’s 'Unreliable Cycles' – blending in beautifully to a meticulously realised sweep of low-key beauty. A word too for the sound, which was a master-class in balance and perfection. Now, where did I put that puncture repair outfit?