Full programme announced for Sonica Festival 2024

The eighth edition of the biennial festival for curious minds and adventurous spirits will showcase contemporary artists and musicians from across Egypt as well as welcoming talent from Myanmar to Ukraine, Australia to Luxembourg, Viêt Nam to Switzerland, Canada to the Netherlands to the city, alongside top homegrown Scottish talent.

Sonica 2024 will open on 19 September with the Scottish premiere of Nati Infiniti by Nine Inch Nails’ Alessandro Cortini.

Other live highlights across the eleven days including the RSNO performing the Scottish premiere of John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean with kaleidoscopic live visuals from legendary coder Alba G. Corral; a pay-what-you-can live concert at the Burrell from Scottish Ensemble inspired by the art and architecture of the collection; the first ever UK performances from Myanmar’s cosmic electronic artist and genre film aficionado Heft and Dutch queer warped classical-pop duo No Plexus; a triple bill of Quebec artists from Montreal’s renowned MUTEK Festival; a cyborg pop concert of the future from Danish music ensemble NEKO3 and German multimedia composer Alexander Schubert; Harry Gorski-Brown exploring the limits of the bagpipes; Michael Begg reflecting on his time as musician in residence aboard the Royal Navy’s Antarctic ice patrol ship; Alex Smoke summoning the sounds of colliding worlds in Govanhill Baths and the return of Australian AV legend Robin Fox 

Free installations across the city include the UK premiere of Celine Daemen’s Venice Film Festival Award-winning VR opera starring one headset wearer, a pack of wild dogs and a horse in trouble; Ukrainian artist Kseniia Shcherbakova exploring how interpersonal bonds are strengthened through the trauma of war; Quebeçois artist Bill Vorn creating an ICU for sickly robots; emigre Glasgow-based artist Andrey Chugunov attempting to erase the data of corruption and two new public artworks for Glasgow City Chambers, Ahmed El Shaer’s virtual reality tour inspired by the city’s cryptic crest and composer Amble Skuse’s new soundscape for the Lamp of Remembrance.

A woman with a short black bob holding a pencil in her hand, she looks at us with a half smile. Framing her face is the reflection of the word Cine in lights

La Nuit Dorée Frame.

Sonica Festival 2024 is the culmination of a celebration of 30 years of Glasgow’s Cryptic as world-renowned award-winning producers of unique experiences. 

The programme has been announced for the eighth edition of Sonica, Glasgow’s large-scale festival for curious minds and adventurous spirits. From 19th - 29th September, Sonica will bring some of the world’s top music and audiovisual artists to the city, alongside showcasing some of Scotland’s top homegrown talents. The festival offers a packed 11 days of city-wide live concerts, installations and events at vibrant venues ranging in scale from the IMAX (Scotland’s biggest screen), Tramway One and the Burrell Collection to the Glad Cafe and Govanhill’s Romalav and Offline, alongside Govanhill Baths, CCA, Glasgow City Chambers, the Goethe Institut, New Glasgow Institute and more. Sonica will also be bringing visual art back to the city centre Lighthouse venue since it closed in March 2020. 

The festival will open on 19th September with the Scottish premiere of Nati Infiniti at Tramway, the new live audiovisual work created and performed by Nine Inch Nails touring member, sound artist and the first ever Italian inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame Alessandro Cortini. Moving from blissful drone music to skewed synthesiser melodies and towering slabs of noise, the one-off live event melds the almost familiar with the distinctly alien. 

A close up on a woman with short black hair, obscuring her face and seen in soft focus are silvery strings of something shiny, twinkling in light

SHHE headshot, Portis Wasp.

Other live events across the festival include:

  • The World Premiere of Ela Orleans’ La Nuit Dorée, a suite of deconstructed and reimagined French pop music of the 1960s and ‘70s inspired by her parents’ record collection and a temperamental record player that used to mangle the LPs it played.  At times familiar, at others transformed, these torch songs and dance tunes are set to a visual collage that summons up and subverts the fashion, film and style of bygone times; this is a vision of a Paris that could have been, and a golden age that never was. In a double bill with the UK premiere of Alexandrian sound artist and composer Ahmed Saleh’s A Ten Year Walk To The Shore,  a new work for voice and musical instruments that tells the story of two floods that devastated the low-lying city in the fourth and eleventh centuries and warns of future catastrophe where rushing tides will swamp bustling streets. (Tramway, 19th September).
  • The UK premiere of Scottish Album of the Year nominee SHHE’s new immersive multi-vocal work The Moving Tides, inspired by Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, a revolutionary book finding a new audience in the age of climate crisis. SHHE’s breathy, plangent siren’s song will blend with melodies on modular synthesiser, evoking the rolling of the seas. In a double bill with a live performance from Scottish composer and turntableist NikNak around Ireti, their new album to a shining future of blissful jungle and shimmering mutant trip-hop, NikNak argues that the technology we’re so suspicious of could turn out to be our salvation. (Tramway, 20th September)
  • The UK premiere of a pop concert of the future from Danish music ensemble NEKO3 and German multimedia composer Alexander Schubert.  The growing transhumanist movement anticipates a future in which the division between man and machine dissolves; in Angel Death Traps this vision of a cyborg future transforms into a concert of ambiguously humanoid figures performing a song cycle of love, loss and existence. (Tramway, 21st September)
  • Myanmar musician Heft – aka Zwel Mun Wint – makes his debut UK appearance with cosmic electronic music influenced by his love of genre films: think Annihilation meets Aphex Twin. Heft will perform a live set from Mensch, the final instalment in a trilogy of albums exploring notions of growth and the maturing self, as well as some brand-new tracks, with beautiful analogue symmetry visuals from from VJ Georgina Penkstkart. In a double bill with The Field of Heritage, an evocation of the unique landscape and culture of northern Viêt Nam in an audiovisual collaboration between composer and musician Quoc Trung and digital artist Veronica Petukhov.  From the chaotic patterns of megacity traffic to the vertiginously vast rice terraces which provide much of the region’s employment and income, this is an evocative mashup of traditional songs, literature, city sounds and local language. (Tramway, 26th September)
  • A mutant performance around a structure that is part sapling, part lectern, part crucifix by Cally Staham, aka plus44Kaligula, whose practice runs from torch songs accompanied by acoustic guitar to pulverising slabs of operatic electronica. In a double bill with Saturation Point, a collaborative audiovisual work between British experimental electronic musician Ben Chatwin (who also records as Talvihorros), visual artist Morgan Beringer and live cellist Pete Harvey, fusing retrofuturist visuals with Chatwin’s signature pulsing, techno-inflected modular synth music. (Tramway, 27th September)
  • A debut UK live performance of warped queer pop from Dutch artists No Compliments and Bec Plexus, who together form No Plexus. Their collaborative songs – themed around transformations, uncertainties and the gleeful skewering of millennial wannabes – evolve from a cappella melodies and warm burbles of synthesisers into classical music-informed epics that delight in pop music and its deconstruction, performed through a haze of smoke, light and acid colour flares like an infernal Top of the Pops. In a double bill with Glasgow producer and DJ turned electronic musician naafi, who’s debut EP UVA is packed with glimmering, pulsing, garage-inflected dancefloor fillers. An unmissable live set from one of the city’s great young talents forging a thrilling new strand in their career. (Tramway, 28th September).
  • A first-ever Cryptic takeover of Glasgow’s huge IMAX screen with a double-bill from British artist Konx-om-Pax dissolving the boundaries between what we see and hear, resulting in a thrillingly synaesthetic experience and Italy’s Riccardo Giovinetto with FEMINA, setting splinters of Renaissance paintings and processed snatches of polyphonic madrigals against contemporary electronica and visuals to explore traditional notions of beauty. (IMAX, 28th September)
  • The UK premiere of All Above, an immersive live performance by Grand River – aka Dutch-Italian musician Aimée Portioli – investigating the known and unknown forces that guide our lives. Fusing piano, voice, guitar and synthesiser, Aimée performs with long-time collaborator Marco Ciceri who uses lighting, video projections and practical effects to alternately veil and reveal Portioli as her music moves from the clear and chiming to gauzy, woozy abstraction. Performed in a double-bill with the Scottish premiere of Black Dog (Live) by Gazelle Twin, aka composer, singer and artist Elizabeth Bernholz. An intense live performance of her third album, Gazelle Twin steps away from her previous masked persona to reveal herself with personal material inspired by recurring dreams through to childhood fears and memories. (20th September, Tramway)
  • A triple bill of UK and European premieres from Quebec artists in partnership with legendary Montreal-based festival MUTEK who celebrate 25 years, all focusing on the beauty and dread found in the tiniest element of the natural world. Martin Messier’s 1 Drop 1000 Years, inspired by the devastating thermohaline effects of climate change and how minute fluctuations in temperature can transform our ecosystem, will see Tramway’s main stage flooded with digital water currents which stream, sputter and splash to a bubbling electronic soundtrack. France Jobin and Markus Heckmann’s Entanglement explores the breakdown of the rules of physics at a quantum level, drawing on cutting-edge quantum theory to create visuals of impossible realities that capture cosmic awe. Ida Toninato and Pierre-Luc Lecours’ Homeostasis draws on the golden ratio - a pattern found in the spiral of a snail’s shell, the number of petals in a flower, the shape of the Milky Way, and some of our most recognisable architecture- to create an AV feedback loop of blooming organic matter, whirling galactic forms and improvised saxophone and modular synthesiser. (21st September, Tramway)
  • A new collaboration between Sonica and Scottish Ensemble, Echoes of the Burrell’, fusing sound and space with an afternoon of live music at the Burrell Collection. In a carefully curated performance by visionary violist Jane Atkins, the programme traverses through ancient and contemporary melodies inspired by the Collection’s environment, exhibits and architecture (22nd September, pay what you can)
  • The UK premiere of French electronica artist, Annabelle Playe and innovative Scottish bagpipe player Harry Gorski-Brown’s Elephant you shake your sheep, which pushes the instrument’s familiar sound to its limits, challenging its capabilities and limitation against the ostensibly endless potential of electronica. In a double bill with the UK premiere of Swiss musician Marie Delprat’s Ethereal Realms - All Fiction is Metaphor, a live show investigating female performance in a post-human world and inspired by sci-fi writer Ursula K. Le Guin.   (26th September, Tramway)
  • The Scottish premiere of the new live show from Australian AV legend Robin Fox. Known for his live performances where techno meets white noise, buzzing electronica and spectacular laser structures, in Triptych Fox employs custom-made hardware to split image generation and audio amplification into equal parts, colliding the senses and filling the space with volumes of light perfectly synchronised to his music. (27th September, Tramway)
  • The RSNO performing the Scottish premiere of John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean, an ebbing and flowing sonic journey and a meditation on the vast, mysterious tides of existence. In a unique collaboration, world-renowned female coder and artist Alba G. Corral will paint large-scale kaleidoscopic digital landscapes responding to the music in real time for a truly immersive experience. (28th September, Tramway)
  • Scottish Disabled South Asian music producer Supermann on da beat with a multi genre and multimedia performance with visuals, lighting, live and electronic elements, alongside a variety of artists and musicians creating an inclusive and community led experience for the audience. (The Glad Cafe 28th September)
  • The premiere of two new events by Glasgow’s own contemporary electronic star Alex Smoke. On 21 September, Alex will perform the first ever outing of Wind of the Sun at Govanhill Baths, a vision of the most colossal powers in creation wiping out life in a single devastating stroke. Wind of the Sun will summon the sound of worlds literally colliding, a pummelling rush of noise and sensation that peels the hair from our scalp and leaves us feeling lucky to be alive. Sonica 2024 will then finish on Sunday 29th with the UK premiere of Tapemoana at Tramway, Alex’s new collaboration with France-based artist Paul Duncombe. On a scientific expedition to the South Pacific, Paul made numerous recordings of the vital habitats of coral reefs, now under threat from oceans that are growing ever warmer. The live show uses this visual data – collected using photogrammetry, 3-D scanning and binocular cameras – to tell a story of our deep seas, both a poetic depiction of the surreally beautiful world below the waves and an urgent call to action. Alex Smoke’s dreamy, ethereal new score soundtracks this most alien world beneath the waves.
  • Scottish composer Michael Begg’s stately video work Out of Whose Womb Comes The Ice, inspired by his time as musician in residence aboard the Royal Navy’s Antarctic ice patrol ship HMS Protector. He made landfall on barren beaches, toured isolated island locations, and visited remote scientific stations where the melting of polar ice is tracked minute by minute – and everywhere he found ice in retreat and water unnervingly warm. In a double bill with Belgian artist Floris Vanhoof’s two works themed around (un)predictability: Soap Bubbles, where a laser shines through an expanding, amorphous foam resulting in a soundtrack that mutates constantly as bubbles form, pop and reform at random and The Mirror Egg, a compellingly odd new film of stop-motion animation, field-recorded documentary and close-ups of household objects edited with binary and hexadecimal codes. (Glad Cafe, 20th September)
  • Female Egyptian artist Shadwa Ali’s live performance of Resonance of the Gyre, uses video footage and ambient sounds gathered during everyday life in coronavirus lockdown, to depict environments whose eerie desertion has the charge of possibility: clearings from which new ways of being might spring up. Shadwa Ali’s installation Beyond the Shore, investigating the rapid changes in how we live in, travel around and make use of our cities, will also run at Tramway for the duration of Sonica 2024. Taking as a starting point her birthplace of Alexandria – a city that has changed so much the artist now finds it unrecognisable – Ali mixes the nostalgic and the hyper-contemporary in an audiovisual work presenting bizarre and beautiful models for future ways of living. (Glad Cafe, 27th September)

An abstract image pf a black spiky shape surrounded by soft pink, blue and orange light

Visuals by Georgina Penstkart.

Sonica will bring a packed programme of free installations by international artists to venues across the city, including:

  • The UK premiere of the winner of the Immersive Grand Prize at Venice Film Festival 2023,  Celine Daemen’s virtual reality opera Songs for a Passerby, which invites audiences to don a headset and follow a 3-D scanned version of themselves through a shadowy cityscape where wild dogs roam, a hushed choir sings and a horse faces a dire fate. Who is the real you – the animated avatar that encounters these set-pieces, or the consciousness observing its movements from afar? Are you implicated or involved in your avatar’s adventures, or just a passerby? (Offline [Formerly GAMIS], 19th - 29th September)
  • The World premiere of a new installation from Kyiv-based Kseniia Shcherbakova explores how interpersonal bonds are strengthened amid the traumas of war. Dozens of arrows hang from the ceiling, a frozen attack that could recommence at any moment, while more hanks of hair wrap and connect lumps of rock, showing how a seemingly fragile material can contain potentially lethal projectiles. Kseniia, who is still based in Ukraine, developed the new work in a Cryptic residency in Cove Park, Scotland this Spring (Goethe Institut, 19th-29th September)
  • Inspired by the recent data leaks including the Panama papers and Paradise papers which have exposed nefarious systems that normally operate out of our view – a parallel world of tax havens, illicit investments and conspiracies of corruption- Byte By Byte  by artist Andrey Chugunov is an installation in which eight LED arrays flicker and sound channels chirrup as devices ‘read’ copies of these data leaks and, in doing so, erase them. (Goethe Institut, 19-29 September)
  • The UK premiere of Quebeçois artist Bill Vorn’s ICU which asks where do sickly robots go to recover by creating a sickbay for suffering automata. Observed by human viewers, four quasi-humanoid creations struggle into animation: chest units rise and fall, rudimentary limbs gestures towards monitors showing their vital signs. Are they being kept functional by this (artificial) life support, or is it drawing vampiric power from their feeble efforts? (CCA, 19 - 29 September)
  • The World premiere of Umweltraum((a)) by Luxembourg architect and artist Laura Mannelli and Scotland-based Belgian artist and musician Sonia Killmann, a riff on Umwelt theory - that our world is not one unified, objectively observable whole but made up of the subjective impressions of its innumerable, diverse inhabitants. A hummingbird’s sensory world would look very different from a human’s – to say nothing of that of an artificial intelligence. Enter a world comprised of overlapping sense-impressions and contrasting mechanic visuals with a restless, teeming, organic soundtrack.  (CCA, 19th - 29th September)
  • A unique take on consumer society from writers, artists and filmmakers Beny Wagner (Germany) and Sasha Litvintseva (Russia) present a unique take on the consumer society. A creepy, quirky philosophical treatise set to a racing beat, My Want of You Partakes of Me explores how we ingest, transform and incorporate into ourselves – figuratively and literally – our experiences of the world around us. (CCA, 19th - 29th September)
  • Two new installations which recast Glasgow’s City Chambers in a new light. Inspired by Glasgow’s enigmatic city crest Egyptian artist Ahmed El Shaer creates a virtual reality tour below and beneath the City Chambers. The Narrative invites audiences to walk parallel to the route of a regular guided visit and revealing the secret symbology of a familiar building – telling a story the public never normally hears. In Sonic Lamp, Scottish composer Amble Skuse reflects on both the Glasgow Cenotaph which has stood in George Square since 1924 and, behind it, in the beautifully ornate domed entryway to the City Chambers, the Lamp of Remembrance in memory of ex-service nurses. Amble Skuse’s new composition will play from speakers near the lamp, inviting visitors to pause here, take in the music, and, in contemplating the memorial in its centenary year, remember the lives of those lost to conflict. (Glasgow City Chambers, 19 - 29 September)
  • The Steve White Experience, a quirky animation set to catchy hyperpop from 2023 John Byrne Award nominees Emily Brooks Millar and Lew-C. In a time when politicians and commentators generate attention, clicks and money by scaremongering, sowing division and spreading baseless conspiracies – often targeting society’s most marginalised- this is the story of an immoral pundit who profits from his absurd and hateful rhetoric, and a reminder that we shouldn’t pay heed to inflammatory voices just because they shout the loudest. (Tramway, 19th - 29th September)
  • Battle of Tranquility, a collaboration between Glasgow-Egyptian artist HUSS with Egyptian photographer Salma Olama and musician Abul Mogard that reflects the constant battle with self, identity and the people and places around him. (Tramway 19th - 29th September)
  • Belgian artist Floris Vanhoof instals a full grand piano on its side in the New Glasgow Society, surrounded by a hypersensitive antenna that picks up electromagnetic waves emanating from local weather, distant traffic and mobile phones and converts them to movements that vibrate and pluck the piano’s strings, generating haunting chance harmonics. (New Glasgow Society, 19th - 29th September)
  • The UK premiere of Quebeçois artist Martin Messier’s Cycles, as thin straps of dazzling light flail out into empty space, then float down almost weightless in the dark. In their movements – sometimes one beam acting alone, sometimes all eight in complex interplay –  Messier transforms his fascination for harmony and disorder into a dance for white light, a simple medium describing highly involved systems. (Lighthouse, 19th - 29th September)
  • Swiss artist Lukas Truniger’s Distributive Intelligence, illustrating the ways in which behaviours change across groups, and how the smallest actions can snowball into seismic trends. Simple, light-emitting modules, each knee-high, fill the space, blinking on and off in response to algorithms that mimic cellular evolution patterns. Despite each device’s rudimentary design and simplicity of function, together they are capable of producing dizzyingly intricate patterns. (Lighthouse, 19th - 29th September)
  • Glasgow’s Becky Šik investigates what it is like to be a bat, drawing together their investigations into bat echolocations, satellite tracking and the practice of magnet fishing – all utilising fields and forces invisible to the human eye. Šik brings to light covert activities, hidden pathways and the fine line between physics and magic in an installation which combines documentary and half-glimpsed subliminal video footage with live sound from specially built musical instruments that harness the power of the magnetic. (Romalav, 19th - 29th September)

The festival will also welcome renowned Scottish film composer Craig Armstrong (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet) to the city’s historic Glasgow Film Theatre for a Cinemasters Season celebrating his big screen work, culminating with a screening of The Great Gatsby and a live Q&A with Craig on 25th September. 

Sonica’s core funders are Creative Scotland, Glasgow Life, Scottish Government Expo Fund, PRSF Foundation's Talent Development Network PP and British Council, with support from The Ukrainian Institute, Diaphonique, Pro Helvetia, Kultur | lx – Arts Council, Luxembourg, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Quebec Government Office, London, Institut Ramon Llull, French Institute in Scotland, Swiss Cultural Fund, Flanders House, Goethe Institut Glasgow, Alliance Francaise Glasgow, The Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM), The Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh and European Media Art Platform (EMAP). 

A figure silhouetted by strobes of bright pink and purple light, standing on a stage

NEKO3 EM, Wonge Bergmann, Angel Death Traps.

Cryptic’s founding Artistic Director Cathie Boyd said:

“Sonica 2024 will be the culmination of our celebration of an incredible 30 years of Cryptic, which began life in Glasgow in 1994. It showcases everything that Cryptic has gone on to become known for: bringing cutting-edge, internationally-renowned artists to Scottish audiences and giving an ambitious platform for Scottish artists to stand alongside them. I am particularly pleased to be premiering new work from both international and Scottish artists developed during a Cryptic residency at Cove Park in Argyll in Spring 2024. We bought together Laura Mannelli from Luxembourg, Alba G. Corral from Spain, Kseniia Shcherbakova from Ukraine, No Plexus from the Netherlands and Heft from Myanmar to live, work and converse alongside Scotland-based artists Sonia Killmann, SHHE, Harry Gorski-Brown, Konx om Pax and Alex Smoke and we’re thrilled that Sonica will give the first outing to new work developed during these unique collaborations. 

A clear and urgent theme emerging from Sonica 2024’s programme is one of our developing relationship with water in the age of climate catastrophe and how seemingly minute changes in our natural world can impact across the globe. This is an understandable concern for many of our festival artists, from Egypt to Dundee, and AV art, which expands from a single note or pixel to create vast immersive worlds, is a perfect medium to explore how the tiny can both disrupt and possibly heal on a giant scale. 

With all festival installations completely free to experience and some live events pay-what-you-can, I urge everyone to come and experience Sonica 2024 - and celebrate 30 years of Glasgow’s very own Cryptic for themselves. Whether it’s a virtual reality tour that will make you see Glasgow’s history in a whole new light, a sideways grand piano that plays itself using passing traffic or a mind-expanding visual trip on Scotland’s biggest screen, this is a unique chance to see some of the world’s most inventive artists right on your doorstep.”

Glasgow Life Senior Projects and Programmes Manager - Arts, Music and Cultural Venues, Katie Duffy, said:  “The Sonica 2024 programme features an exciting, eclectic showcase of works by an incredible line-up of outstanding homegrown talent and some of the world’s most innovative music and audio-visual producers. Offering a wealth of unique multimedia experiences, stand-out performances, premieres, and international collaborations, the festival is set to be an unmissable highlight of Glasgow’s cultural calendar this year.”

All installations are free and unticketed. Tickets for Tramway 1 and Govanhill events go on sale from 10am Wednesday 29 May. Tickets for all other live events go on sale from late June. Tickets range from £8 - £30. 

Book online at sonic-a.co.uk, in person at City Halls, Glasgow Royal Concert Halls and Tramway and over phone on 0845 330 3501. 

See full listings at sonic-a.co.uk 

Media contacts

For interviews, press tickets etc please contact Ruth Marsh on 07824668396 / [email protected]