ON THE surface, what Easterhouse-based community resource and arts centre Platform had billed as their Christmas Carousal show shouldn’t have had much that was seasonal going for it. We were promised three Glaswegian music groups from the more experimental side of the tracks, and even the set which was in place as an ad hoc backdrop to the show – that of Andy Manley, Andy Cannon and Shona Reppe’s family theatre show Black Beauty – has no typical festive theme.
Christmas Carousal, Platform, Glasgow ****
Support came from WOLF, the solo project of theatre composer and former member of Zoey Van Goey Kim Moore, and Glasgow musician Stevie Jones’ Sound of Yell, and what eventually emerged in the headline slot from Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra was something truly transporting and magical, in the best sense of Christmas being a time to inspire childlike wonder, even without bunches of tinsel hung on the instruments.
When the Orchestra arrived it was on a wave of sound, of hum and chatter from the recesses of the room. From behind the sound desk and in the seats alongside the audience, the group (12 of them, down from their core of 20) began to process towards the stage, rattling chairs, hitting metal handrails and dragging their knuckles along tempered sheets of supporting metal.
Their instruments lay on the stage, and when they picked them up an ambient soundscape of depth and complexity emerged; strings softly creaking like floorboards; shuffling drum patterns; ambling, poignant lines played on saxophone and trumpet; a serrated guitar riff; a squealing theremin; an extended laugh from one of the violinists which might have been part of the composition or not.
As they advanced slowly offstage once again, disappearing into the wings and the gods gently rattling cowbells, we returned to earth from the sonic Narnia this heart-soothing, gorgeous music had transported us to.- DAVID POLLOCK