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Aeger Smoothie, LinhHafornow, Alex Smoke

Cryptic Nights, Glad Café, Glasgow
Four stars

Strange times require creative solutions, and with the Covid-19 pandemic causing live events to be scrapped, it’s time to get virtual. Such is the case for this latest Cryptic Nights concert, an initiative begun a decade ago by Glasgow-based international auteurs Cryptic with the aim of showcasing a multitude of composers who mix up artforms to ravish the senses.

With the aim of presenting music designed to benefit both body and mind, having this triple bill of international artists perform work in an otherwise empty venue while being streamed online has set the template for getting art out to a self-isolated audience. So, as it ramps up each performer’s hi-tech futurism, while there is an extra distance between audience and artist, there is also an intimacy that comes from such a one-on-one experience.  

This is certainly the case in Glasgow electronicist Alex Smoke’s opening set, a conceptual piece called Eirini, named after the Greek goddess of peace. The result is a lap-top driven sepulchral fusion of ancient and modern, which slowly but surely morphs into incantatory electronic chorales. Heard through headphones while watching the performance on a computer screen, a blissed-out meditation ensues. 

The concentrated textures conjured up by Vietnamese composer LinhHafornow draw from the natural world, with crashing waves, looped mouth violin and vocal keening set against projections that make for something more beguilingly spectral. Finally, Aeger Smoothie, aka Russian photographer and artist Mikhail Pinyaev, gives heart and soul to what sounds like little rhythm based depth charges that eventually give way to a martial conclusion.

Online watch parties are nothing new in clubland, though the absence of a crowd, applause or any public interaction here must be more unnerving for the artists than those watching it at home. For the virtual audience, the array of low level sonic dreamscapes accompanied by Pinyaev’s immersive visuals, soothe, arouse and stimulate a zenned-out calm and very necessary state of grace in such otherwise wobbly times.

The Herald, March 20th 2020



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