Event review: Instal


GLASWEGIAN self-styled "composersuperimposer performerclown" Iain Campbell's first in a triptych of sets on Saturday evening saw the pale streak of a man sit disrobed but for a dressing gown draped around his narrow shoulders, gulping glasses of water and shovelling cereal into his face, stopping intermittently to regurgitate into a basin. All the while an ominously warped video of Queen at Live Aid looped on a giant screen. X Factor this wasn't.

Newly transferred from The Arches to the fresh canvas of the Tramway, annual experimental art-music weekender Instal left a healthy crowd's heads' stimulatingly scratched in its tenth year of exploring "un-average musical ideas".

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Campbell was one of a trio of young artists - alongside Steven Anderson and Neil Davidson - to stage three short performances concurrently over three hours, allowing you to sample one, two or all in different combinations. No pair of people can have come away from this festival with identical experiences and reactions, and that would seem to be the point.

The Tramway foyer was haunted by the sound of the Resonance Radio Orchestra, a live broadcast of actor Tam Dean Burn walking a spiral course away from the venue then back again across the weekend, in a 48-hour broadcast of the ambience of Glasgow's streets.

A similarly disorientating audio piece was Christopher Delaurenti's spacialised recordings - played in the dark - from the 1999 World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle. The covertly taped police transmissions were rather lost in the mix - was that intentional or accidental? You could ask the same of a lot at Instal, but it was an at times a thrillingly immersive listen nevertheless.

The most interesting thing about Florian Hecker's computer noise music assault Speculative Solution - blips, beeps and pulses blasted from massive speakers (ear plugs were offered) - was observing the variety of reactions among the audience. Some people sat, some paced the room, others lay on the floor. A handful engaged in a kind of weird interpretive dance routine. You felt like there might have been men in white coats sat behind a two-way mirror, scribbling feverishly.

The day's finale was Swedish-American legend of pioneering drone music Catherine Christer Hennix's "digital infinity composition" Zero-Time, a low, pulsating hum broadly comparable to the sound of a downstairs neighbour leaving an industrial washing machine on eternal spin cycle.

One man's avante-garde masterpiece might be another's sonic equivalent of Japanese water torture, but like Instal at large, it definitely wasn't an experience to be had dispassionately.