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Instal 2010 Review

Tramway, Glasgow
4 stars
As with the voice of God, the dulcet tones of actor Tam Dean Burn permeate around Tramway over the three days of what started out a decade back as a leftfield music festival, but which has morphed into something less tangibly defined. Instal today is more about philosophical inquiry and the theoretical roots behind sonic expression than a conveyor-belt of crowd-pleasers. What this means on the Saturday at least is an afternoon of pre-show talks followed by evening events that veer between live-art style performance and more immersive experiences.

Burn’s voice is beamed live from a forty-eight hour perambulation around Glasgow under the auspices of sound art radio station Resonance FM. The result, as Burn’s running commentary and bumpings-into are heard through speakers in a room littered with shoes – the newest totem of protest – shaped in a curly-tailed spiral, resembles an urban DIY take on Down Your Way.

More dramatic was Christopher Delaurenti’s field recordings of the 1999 anti-globalisation protests in Washington that ended in violence and disarray. Heard in darkness across multiple channels, N30: Live at the WTO melds crowd noises with the police radio network to an increasingly discomforting degree. As euphoria turns to chaos, one early optimist’s cry that “This is what democracy looks like!” sounds like a frightening prescient of events on the streets of London last week.

Catherine Christer Hennix closed the evening with Zero-Time, an endless computer-generated piece that formed the flipside to Florian Hecker’s more playful Speculative Solution. This sounded like techno for people who don’t dance and prompted a kind of sonic fun palace as some audience members gamboled as if attending a mime workshop. Now (+ital)that’s(-ital) what democracy probably really looks like.

The Herald, November 16th 2010

ends

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