Sounds across the spectrum

Scotland's annual three-city festival celebrates music from the outer limits
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Now in its fourth year, the Triptych Festival has become a centrepiece for clubbers, eclectics and leftfield music fans. Its name comes from the fact that it originally stretched over a three-day weekend in three Scottish cities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow), but the festival has now expanded to a five-day musical relay race of impeccable quality.

Now in its fourth year, the Triptych Festival has become a centrepiece for clubbers, eclectics and leftfield music fans. Its name comes from the fact that it originally stretched over a three-day weekend in three Scottish cities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow), but the festival has now expanded to a five-day musical relay race of impeccable quality.

Neil Mowat, a co-director of the festival, says Triptych started, "because we saw a gap in the UK market for innovative, quality-led, leftfield programming which isn't uniquely genre specific. It's all about creating the platform for artists who don't have everyday appeal. Larger artists are involved every year, but when we work with them it's in a smaller space, or with people who they don't collaborate with each day of the week. So it's about providing a platform for something that's just a wee bit different."

Breadth and depth of variety is something that Triptych should be applauded for, and the opening Mute Records-themed night in Edinburgh gives some idea of the eclecticism on offer. Sharing the same bill are post-punk underground legends Wire, Irmin Schmidt of the seminal Krautrockers Can, and such edgy, exciting newcomers as Liars, Pink Grease and T Raumschmiere. Elsewhere, the current Scots flavour of the month Franz Ferdinand, Rolling Stones Svengali Andrew Loog Oldham, the soul diva Gwen McCrae, Dr Robert Moog - the creator of the eponymous synthesiser and inventor of modern music by proxy - and the ubiquitous John Peel all take to the stage for a series of gigs, talks and film screenings.

Also returning is avant-garde composer Matthew Herbert, who has appeared now for three years running in a variety of guises. These include Radioboy - where he created a live set by sampling the found sounds of household objects and electronically disguising them - and his Big Band project. This year, he will give the debut performance of his Accidental Broadcast, in conjunction with fellow artists on his own Accidental Records label. "It's kind of like a label showcase," he says, "but that sounds like horrible marketing speak, so I'd prefer to think of it as a family thing. I have this idea that it'll be like a DJ set but with live bands, so one artist will play and then another will come on and blend their music in. It should be a continuous journey, because music is about the spirit of putting a work-in-progress together, rather than the finished result."

As an old hand of the Triptych experience, Herbert is full of praise for the festival. "I have a lot of time for it, yeah. I'm grateful for the opportunity to present my ideas in public. It's a great achievement, and there are very few similar things I can think of around the world which so effortlessly span that reach between the classically sedate and the more spontaneous, visceral world of electronica."

Triptych runs at various venues throughout Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow between today and 2 May. For more information visit www.triptych04.com

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