The Sunday afternoon screening of Luke Fowler’s impressionistic portrait of composer Cornelius Cardew, Pilgrimage From Scattered Points, made sense of much heard at this tenth anniversary of Scotland’s longest standing festival of left-field music and sound. Cardew, after all, was an iconoclastic master at making seemingly apposite ideas work where they shouldn’t.
This applied to an afternoon set by the heroic Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra as much as it did to The One Ensemble Orchestra’s mix of Klezma and choral keening, and even to the charming instrumental sketches of pianist Bill Wells, who reunited his 2004 cross-discipline quartet of Brit-jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead and German electronicists Barbara Morgenstern and Stefan Schneider for their live debut. The addition of Teenage Fanclub guitarist Norman Blake added even warmer textures to an evening begun at the neighbouring Changing Room Gallery with Scando/East European trio Nalle, and continued by Nils Okland and Hakon Stene’s soporific fiddle and percussion duo.
The weekend’s upbeat feel continued with Japanese lo-fi trio Nagisa Ni te’s overdue UK debut. Melody eventually gave way to Justice Yeldham’s solo schtick of blowing into a sheet of amplified glass until it breaks, and the duel sax/bass/drum power trios of Zu and The Thing causing a surprisingly groovy cacophony.
Centrepiece of the weekend was laptop artist Kaffe Matthews remarkable trio with pipers Jarlath Henderson and Chris Gibb. An adjunct to Matthews’ Sonic Bed_Scotland installation in the Tolbooth’s attic space, pipes were sampled, bent out of shape and bounced right back at them in a performance as thrillingly 21st century as harpist Zeena Parkins’ duo with Ikue Morie was later on in a weekend that understood tradition but took it somewhere else entirely.
The Herald, May 29th 2007