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Instal 08

The Arches, Glasgow
4 stars
Last time a major counter-cultural figure came to Glasgow was when Noam Chomsky spoke at the Self-Determination and Power Event in 1990. So to have Gustav Metzger, the founding father of auto-destructive art, as the figurehead of this year’s three day festival of left-field music showed how far Instal is attempting to move from any old-fashioned notions of a gig.

Metzger was the inspiration behind Self-Cancellation, in which artists including harpist Rhodri Davies and sax player John Butcher explored the implosive possibilities of sound. With tubas filled with sand and sounds generated from the building itself, the effect was of a partly successful alchemical cabaret cum science class.

There was little science involved in Energy Births Form, Saturday’s three hour extravaganza in which musicians including veteran bassist Alan Silva, sax player Donald Dietrich and the cream of Japan’s underground players attempted to blow their own minds as well as the audiences into a state of transcendent bliss. It was a good-natured and at times persuasive racket, though noise artist Kylie Minoise’s five minute private shows elsewhere got there a whole lot quicker.

Sunday’s Marginal Consort event was another three hour marathon, in which a quartet of Japanese veterans conjured up a maelstrom of junk-box din from opposite corners of the room to make for a far more electrifying convergence of pace and purpose. With such breadth of form on display, why the conservative red-neck boogie of MV & EE and The Golden Road and The Cherry Blossoms old-time hippy protest ended up closing the festival was a mystery. Until, that is, a drunken guitarist pretty much collapsed his way off stage. Now that’s self-cancellation alright.

The Herald, February 19th 2008

ends

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