Published by: New Music Scotland
About: Cathie Boyd, Cryptic





Since founding Cryptic in 1994 and up until the beginning of 2019, I had the pleasure to collaborate with, commission, programme and support the development of 966 artists; from choirs, music ensembles, solo instrumentalists and singers, to designers, film and theatre makers, all creating innovative, boundary-crossing work with music at its heart. Cryptic is known for its ambition and so, with the arrival of our 25th anniversary, my team and I set a target to have supported a minimum of 1000 artists by the end of this milestone year. I am pleased that thanks to the successes of our three, regular programmes of work, Cryptic Artists, Cryptic Nights and Sonica Glasgow, we surpassed this, taking our total to 1068 artists!

Here are some of my highlights…

Cryptic Artists, established in 2011, nurtures and develops mid-career music, sound and multimedia artists. Last year saw two of our roster come together for the first time, with a joint commission for musician and composer, Alex Smoke and visual artist, Heather Lander, to create a “compelling, thoroughly absorbing” (The Quietus) live audiovisual performance and installation, Primordial Waters, which premiered at Sonica Glasgow 2019. Following a 2018 residency with long-term partners, The Grand Theatre, Groningen, sound and visual artist Robbie Thomson collaborated with Glasgow-based musician, SUE ZUKI on Rottinghuis, a powerful live performance producing “a tense, dripping sludge of industrial techno” (The Wire).


Audiovisual artist and composer, Kathy Hinde developed her “brilliant study of the dissemination of language in our increasingly tech-savvy planet” (The List), Twittering Machines whilst undertaking a Cryptic Cove Park Residency, followed by performances at MUTEK Montréal and Sonica Glasgow 2019. Newest addition, electronic sound and visual artist, performer, academic and cinematic composer, Ela Orleans was commissioned and premiered her multi-instrumental solo show, Night Voyager, exploring the “emotional journey and the wider meaning of the lunar trip” (The National) by pairing footage from the 1969 NASA Archive with live synthesizer, theremin, violin and voice. She has since officially joined our roster of Cryptic Artists.


Also enjoying its own celebration, Cryptic Nights, our annual open call ‘talent spotter’ and “series of experimental one-night stands” (The List) for emerging, Scottish-based artists turned 10. This allowed Aberdeen-based, Italian duo, Silent Chaos the opportunity to develop and perform their experimental audiovisual project combining drones, drums and continuously changing and glitching visuals, Origins; we worked with Drake Music Scotland’s iPad Quartet to give insight into the multiple perspectives of their performers using live camera capture, and composer, Jules Rawlinson added a live electronic score and sound design to archival material from pioneering scientific filmmaker Eric Lucey in Interval and Instance.


Sonica, Glasgow’s lovingly leftfield festival of audiovisual art and performance” (The Scotsman) saw us support more Scottish talent than in previous editions, selecting and giving a high-profile, international platform to 25 local acts through commissions, direct and open-call programming. Aside from our Cryptic Artists, the festival saw artist, Katie J. Anderson develop Sound Horn, her outdoor installation combining choral notes and spoken word parts for Pollok House’s Parterre Garden, and Daniel Magee, aka musician and producer, Lo Kindre collaborated with Catalonia’s Alba G. Corrall on a new live audiovisual performance, with all three of these artists having participated in our Cryptic Cove Park Residency.


Through open call and in partnership with the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, we curated a night of new music for a new venue, Greenock’s Tobacco Warehouse, featuring multi-instrumentalist, Callum Easter, queer feminist provocateur, KLEFT and post-rock pop outfit, Rev Magnetic amongst others. Composer Ceylan Hay was selected as the guest performer for Argentinian, Nicolás Varchausky’s Money Desk and for what is now a signature site of the festival, artist, filmmaker and musician, Luke Fowler developed his Gourd Composition #2 for two live performances celebrating not an individual, but an overlooked genre of musical instrument, at the Hamilton Mausoleum.


Last but not least, Cryptic is fortunate to contribute a second blog post specific to Below the Blanket, our series of new artworks installed throughout the Royal Botanic Garden during the 2019 Edinburgh Festivals and inspired by one of Scotland’s most extraordinary and unsung natural features, The Flow Country. But I have to give special mention for one work in particular, Malcolm Lindsay’s choral composition, which we commissioned for recording and live performance by the Dunedin Consort. This was a real passion project for me, having collaborated with world-renowned choirs throughout my career and the fact that this piece had a very personal connection to the composer, made it all the more special. Lindsay, who grew up in Caithness, recalled stories of the Flow Country from his youth, and his score and libretto drew on the emotional resonance of this unique area, using the Latin names of native plants, animals and birds to create an ethereal hymn to this unique environment. A true testament to the quality of his writing, I was thrilled that in addition to its live premiere, this “captivating music… as strange and beautiful as the place that inspired it” (The Arts Desk), received an exclusive first play on BBC Radio 3.

As we begin an exciting new chapter, where our commitment to continue nurturing creative talent matters now more than ever, I am excited to widen the music genres which we support and present. These, and all our musicians, have created fantastic works which deserve to be seen far and wide. I am fortunate to travel extensively and to have many opportunities to promote our home-grown talent at a host of international festivals. Their abilities, achievements and innovative approaches are essential to making all Cryptic experiences memorable and engaging for our audiences at home and overseas, ultimately ensuring the next 25 years of ‘ravishing the senses.’


Sonica Glasgow 2019 Live Audio:

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