Eastern Promise at Platform: 2018 Preview
The eighth edition of Platform’s Eastern Promise festival combines cutting-edge music, art and performance
The autumnal cousin of Platform’s Outskirts festival, Eastern Promise is a beacon of exciting and experimental art of all stripes when it comes flashing into view each year. Now in its eighth year, the festival spreads out across the various spaces of the Easterhouse complex that Platform calls home and, in a time where looking outward seems to be falling out of vogue, the programme has an exciting international feel.
Of all the great musicians highlighted by Brian Shimkovitz’s Awesome Tapes From Africa label, it’s been argued that Ethiopian funk great Hailu Mergia is among the very best. Off the back of some of his classic works finding a new audience in recent years, Mergia released a brand-new album – his first in two decades – earlier this year, and he heads the line-up for Eastern Promise’s first night. Expect funky accordions and keyboards aplenty.
Also on Friday night, Monster Chetwynd presents her new short film Face Cream. A co-production between Platform and the GoMA art gallery, the film is inspired by Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov’s Stalin-era satire The Master and Margarita. The action is transposed to a magical Glasgow, with the film shot in (and with the support of) museum venues across the city. In terms of theatre, performance maker Xavier de Sousa presents new work POST, examining national identity and creating new dialogues through the ingenious use of Portuguese food and Cachaça.
On Saturday, dancer Ashanti Harris collaborates with textile designer Zephyr Liddell and musician Paul Shofolahan on fascinating new project Jumbies. The piece combines elements of each of their practice, in what’s described as “an Afrofuturist masquerade” packed with alternate realities and apparitions. Jumbies explores what the French philosopher Jacques Derrida called ‘hauntology’ – the notion of spectres or ghosts that are neither here nor there, past or present, dead or alive – an idea that explains everything from your faux-retro Instagram filters to our endless obsession with archive material and reboots of bygone TV series and film characters.
Another collaboration that’s sure to provide some intrigue is Decline, a piece of dance and music presented by Monika Smekot, Penny Chivas and Jer Reid. The new piece sees the three performers interplay with one another, in a “meditation on things that draw us together and those that fall away.” Glasgow-based artist and musician Sarah Glass presents 13 +/-, a performance which uses light and sound to explore coping mechanisms for social anxiety, and to touch on themes of feminism and social control.
As for Saturday night’s music, the two selections fall at opposite ends of the spectrum. Up first, Night School Records’ Michael Kasparis presents his solo project Apostille at Eastern Promise. When we caught up with Kasparis this year, he described the new Apostille record Choose Life – recorded with Free Love’s Lewis Cook – as an instinctual, personal collection of tracks, and the result is an exciting, minimal take on synth-pop. Kasparis is well-loved for his enthusiastic live shows (a particular strong point of his erstwhile hardcore punk band Anxiety), so expect an energy-boosting set for your Saturday night.
And after Apostille, West Coast jazz legends Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids close out the weekend. Their set at Platform last summer was their first ever Scottish gig; such a quick return is a little out of character for a band whose cosmic sound matches up well with their long and well-travelled history. Having formed in Ohio back in the early 70s, Ackamoor and company journeyed across Africa on a “cultural odyssey”, then moved to San Francisco before disbanding in 1977. Three and a half decades on the band reformed in 2012, with their two new records – 2016’s We Be All Africans and this year’s An Angel Fell – featuring a blend of psych rock, experimental jazz and some unbelieveable sax playing from bandleader Ackamoor. Fittingly for an internationally-minded festival like Eastern Promise, you should finish the weekend feeling transported to another world entirely.