An invaluable snapshot of Glasgow’s music
Music Is The Music Language 2012

Music is the Music Language is a relatively new Glasgow-based festival showcasing the best in underground and experimental music in the city. The first day’s lineup, based in the city’s West end, includes such gems as the swampy garage blues of Rosy Crucfixion - rising from the ashes of the lamented Michael Dracula; the rockabilly stylings of Big Ned, under singer Spawny McCludgie’s crazed drunken preacher invective, and the truly experimental collision of jazz, krautrock and klezmer that is Tut Vu Vu – a favourite live act for many in this city.

Richard Youngs and Luke Fowler kick off proceedings on Sunday afternoon. Youngs and Fowler are arguably the most famous names on the entire bill; Youngs being an internationally renowned avant-garde musician, and Fowler (though better known as filmmaker/artist) up for the Turner Prize, so their kicking things off might seem a bit odd. Especially since it’s one of the day’s highlights, a complex multilayered electronic beast working with complex polyrythms and stabs of Detroit style synth that arguably would have worked better in a warehouse at 2am rather than the sedate setting of Kinning Park Complex in the afternoon.

After a beautifully sung, and subtly choreographed (i.e. they wandered around the venue not wearing any shoes) piece of vocal counterpoint from Hanna Tuulikki, Nerea Bello and Lucy Duncombe we decamp to a nearby industrial estate, where the Winning Sperm Party Generator gig sees some men battling with their guitars under a bridge. If not the most original or musically subtle of the day’s offerings, it’s always good to hear some serious riffage erupt from the grimmest of settings.

The most famous venue in the area is the Grand Ole Opry, a country and western club that has entered into Glaswegian folklore for its naive reconstruction of the Deep South on a budget on Glasgow’s South side. Chronicler of folk art Jeremy Deller would love this place; the gallery representing him, the Modern Institute, is listed as the first band on the bill. In the best joke of the day, the Modern Institute turn out to be a bunch of dudes screaming inconsequential lyrics about food over some very crude electro. Not the real Modern Institute then. A couple of prominent art world bods who’ve not been in on the joke are seen hurriedly leaving.

Musical highlights come from Sacred Paws, a girl duo who, with just a drum kit and a guitar, produce an exhilarating punk rock brew that comes across like The Slits if they’d been raised on afrobeat rather than reggae. They look great as well, the singer/ guitarist being of Native American descent, which prompts her to remark, jokingly, “I don’t know how I feel about playing in a place like this.”

Remember Remember’s singer Graeme Ronald seems more comfortable, greeting the building with a refrain of ‘I Wish I was in Dixie’. Then they get into their post-rock groove, building delicate harmonies through swathes of sound that have the audience hypnotised. While this is still undoubtedly Ronald’s musical vision, and it’s always good to see him to pull another instrument out of his musical hat, Remember Remember have really come into their own as a fully-fledged band.

Music is the Music Language is also really coming into its own as a music festival. It provides an invaluable snapshot of Glasgow’s music today, a scene that is still one of the most vibrant and diverse in Europe, if not the world.

Words by Brian Beadie
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