This weekend is Tectonics weekend.
It’s not as though I manage to attend every year, or even most years, and generally I can’t make the whole thing so end up doing only the Saturday or only the Sunday. Nonetheless, I was originally supposed to be off this weekend and I’d vaguely planned on taking the long weekend and heading to Glasgow to attend. Then of course, everything changed in March and all those plans went to dust.
In common with many other small festivals, Tectonics has made a valiant attempt at creating a virtual festival over the course of it’s scheduled weekend. Unlike many other small music festivals, because the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is involved, most of the proceedings are recorded for Radio 3 and some of the performances even get filmed, so we aren’t talking a shoogly Youtube playlist with lots of unwanted feedback and peaking. All the strange noises are intentional strange noises!
In a nice touch, they’d laid out the virtual programme in the same style and structure as the actual festival programme normally takes, with artist talks and interviews – some archive and others clearly recorded on Zoom specifically for this event – early in each day, alternating concerts between the intertwining strands that would normally take place in the Fruit Market and the City Halls, with set piece concerts later and late night experimental DJ sets to finish it off. Giving the whole thing a feel of a fantasy line-up rather than an apology.
(To add to the verisimilitude of my own experience, I only discovered that the virtual festival was happening, a few days before, after spotting a stray post on twitter.)
One of the available gigs is Syzygys from 2018, which I actually saw live at the Fruit Market and were the highlight of that year’s Tectonics for me – the kind of gig that if you have to leave before the encore, makes you seriously contemplate missing your last train home just to hear one more song. They make such strange and wonderful experimental music, with such confidence and competence. However off the wall the results, it’s never random, the music has a clear internal logic that I appreciate – I find both serialism and minimalism compelling rather than cold when it comes to modern classical music – and there were definitely elements that were pleasingly reminiscent of the medieval end of Western Early music, along with some rather more learning toward the Middle East. Such a pleasure to hear their set again.
I was particularly delighted to see that the sound installations got their moment in the sun too, with extracts from Music for Pure Waves, Bass Drums and Acoustic Pendulums and Sounds from the Farmyard both of which I’ve written about previously – in fact at the start of the clip of the latter, the more eagle-eyed of you may spot me in the audience!
The whole programme has been a delightful companion this weekend, whether I’ve been actively watching concerts in the evenings, or letting the audio only recordings run in the background while I’ve been working from home. All the clips are available for the next 30 days, so if you didn’t get a chance to watch the festival as it unfolded over the weekend, you’ve plenty of time to enjoy something charming, challenging and occasionally baffling, in the coming weeks.