Glasgow experimental music festival Instal makes 10th outing
Bill includes Mattin, Florian Hecker, guitarist Neil Davidson and French improviser Matthieu Saladin
Seekers of easy listening music, turn away now. Instal’s exploration of ‘brave, new music’ aims to stimulate your brain, and your ears. Neil Cooper explains further
The arrival of the 21st century had all sorts of connotations about the future. Eleven months into 2001, a year that had finally caught up with science-fiction, the first Instal festival of ‘Brave New Music’ opened its doors with an era-spanning statement of intent, as 100 metronomes ticked its audience into the unknown. As a re-enactment/tribute to Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti’s Fluxus movement-inspired 1962 composition, ‘Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes’, here was a nod to avant-garde and experimental music’s most arguably fertile historical period.
Almost a decade later, curated leftfield music festivals are commonplace, while micro-gigs of experimental sounds are a staple of art galleries and ad hoc venues. Yet, after a decade of Japanese noise artists and New York minimalist veterans, this year’s programme is unrecognisable. Organisers Barry Esson and Bryony McIntyre’s other iconoclastic events such as the sound and vision-based ‘Kill Your Timid Notion’ and environmental-based one-offs ‘Resonant Spaces’ and ‘Shadowed Spaces’ may have seen them morph into the fully professional Arika organisation, but 2010’s Instal, marketed with the ‘Braver Newer Music’ tag, seems to question it’s very existence.
‘Maybe it was enough when we started,’ Esson explains, ‘to just put things on that, at the time, weren’t happening in Scotland. Since then, we’ve deepened our engagement with experimental music. I see it now as a fidelity to certain systems of thought through experimental music.’
Put simply, Instal has got political. Not in a dogmatic way, but in a more inquiring way that gels with a reawakening of social engagement borne of 1960s idealism among many contemporary cutting-edge artists.
At Instal, there will be performances, provocations and investigations by computer-based noise musician Florian Hecker, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra guitarist Neil Davidson and French improviser Matthieu Saladin. The opening event is provided by actor Tam Dean Burn, who with sound-art based radio station Resonance FM’s Radio Orchestra, will do a 48-hour walk around Glasgow, broadcast as it happens. Also key to where Instal is at right now is the presence of Basque provocateur Mattin, whose copyright-free book, Noise and Capitalism challenges the audience/performance relationship. Instal’s closing event will see Mattin collaborate with Glasgow Open School, a group based on self-determination similar to the Glasgow Free University that existed in the 80s, in which the ‘performance’ will be ‘led’ by audience members who’ve attended a series of workshops. ‘There is no-one that isn’t part of the system.’ Mattin acknowledges. ‘If you’re a performer you’re supposed to present something, but you have to go against expectations and see it more as a social gathering.’
‘All experimental art-forms come out of a desire for opposition,’ Esson says. ‘How you avoid being consumed is the hard part.’ The rest, it seems, is up to you.
Instal, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 12–Sun 14 Nov.
Arika Delivers a Manifesto
The organisers of Instal present a few short talks attempting to articulate their thoughts about experimental music. 'Part of Instal 10'.
An annual festival of avant-garde and experimental music, co-produced by Arika and Tramway in association with the Arches.
Notes on Conceptualism
Vanessa Place, founder of Les Figues Press, discusses conceptual writing, conceptual art and allegory. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Music is about more than just music
Barry Esson, director of Arika and organiser-in-chief of multimedia sound-based festival INSTAL, poses some questions about the culturally-grounded and self-reflective nature of music.
Resonance Radio Orchestra
Actor Tam Dean Burn broadcasts his experiences walking around Glasgow over the course of two days in an installation and on www.resonancefm.com. Access to the installation is free; access to the performances at the beginning and end of his 48-hour odyssey (at 7.30pm on Fri and 7pm on Sun) is by Festival Pass or Day Pass.
A series of talks from the French improviser, composer, writer and musical thinker on CDs that play with the rules of CDs, questioning whether something has to be heard to be musical. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Noises Off - Installation
French experimentalist composer Matthieu Saladin toys with your assumptions about what a musical performance is with his latest installation. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Evacuation of the Great Learning Workshops
A series of workshops with Ray Brassier and Mattin, building up to a performance at the end of the festival, entirely programmed and performed by those who have taken part in the sessions. Email email@example.com to sign up. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Pascal Le Gall
A performance from the French percussionist-turned-musical-thinker, using nothing but a turntable, some teach-yourself foreign language LPs, and impeccable timing. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Before or After Finitude?
Musical artists Catherine Christer Hennix and Florian Hecker discuss their complex and highly intellectual with Barry from Instal organisers Arika and 'Collapse' journal editor Robin McKay. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Experimental musical forays using memories, social relations, drums, paper and Roland Barthes, amongst other things. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Campbell is a Glaswegian 'composersuperimposerperformerclown', whose improvisational, performative works often combine mundane actions with a withering look at contemporary consumerism and music production. Here he plans to disrupt the buffet at the Tracer Trails all-dayer.
Unpredictable performance art involving social interactions and ballads from local musician Steven Anderson. 'Part of Instal 10'.
Evacuation of the Great Learning Performances
The results of a series of workshops that have been taking place throughout the festival with the aim of producing some radical, collective performances. We'd tell you more, but it hasn't even been created yet - and that's what makes it so exciting! 'Part of Instal 10'.
GSA Wednesday Night Open Forum
An event subtitled 'Music is about more than just music', featuring Barry Esson of Arika, the organisers of Instal experimental music festival, which descends on the Tramway this weekend. For those who aren't sure what it's all about, this is the perfect introduction. 'Part of Instal 10'.