Full programme announced for Sonica Surge Festival

sonica surge

29 and 30 September, 2023

Cryptic’s new intensive 48 hour burst of inspiring and innovative audiovisual art and experimentation

Sonica Surge kicks off a year of celebrations to mark Cryptic’s 30th anniversary as one of the UK’s most innovative producing houses


ahmd el shaer cryptc

ahmd el shaer cryptc

Headlined by the UK premiere from pioneering artist and musician Robert Henke, other Sonica Surge highlights include otherworldly sounds from Japan’s Tatsuru Arai, Ahmed El Shaer’s radical re-imaging of 21st century Islamic art, charming robot techno from Moritz Simon Geist, a comment on surveillance tech and boundaries by Kyiv-based George Potopalsky, Nigerian-Scottish Samm Anga exploring the folkloric past and freewheeling tuba and euphonium from Dopey Monkey in the unique surrounds of The Hidden Garden’s Treehouse

DopeyMonkey_credit Ida Chlöe Lou Olsen

DopeyMonkey_credit Ida Chlöe Lou Olsen


Tickets go on sale noon Friday 9 June – Buy tickets

The full programme has been announced for Sonica Surge, Cryptic’s new intensive 48 hour festival which will run at Tramway and The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow across 29 and 30 September.

Opening Event

CBM8032_PieterKers (1)

CBM8032_PieterKers (1)

The festival will open with the World premiere of a new iteration of pioneering digital artist and musician Robert Henke’s CBM 8032 AV. The show draws together the worlds of art and engineering, the ultra-modern and the techno-historical, as Henke uses five Commodore computers first released in 1980 to reanimate the now prehistoric-seeming visuals that were cutting-edge four decades ago. Henke gleefully works within and against these enforced technical limitations, coaxing forth new forms on giant screens to showcase these machines’ startlingly dynamic capabilities. From clunky programming languages emerge endlessly varied visuals, with Henke’s bristling live soundtrack bringing together the analogue and the digital, collapsing forty-plus years of technological innovation into one mind-expanding audiovisual display.

As a musician, Henke’s work is inspired by both radical club culture and contemporary music, and his project Monolake became one of the key icons of a new electronic music scene that emerged in Berlin after the fall of the Wall.

Henke is one of the main creators of Ableton Live, a software which since 2001 has completely redefined the performance practice of electronic music.

Showcasing German and German Based Artists

MoritzSimonGeist _HardTimesRoughSounds_2

MoritzSimonGeist _HardTimesRoughSounds_2

In partnership with Glasgow’s Goethe-Institut, which celebrates fifty years of Scottish-German culture and relations, Sonica Surge will showcase exclusive events with German and German-based artists.

Berlin-based Japanese composer Tatsuru Arai sees parallels between the development of music and natural science over the last century in Re-Solarization, featuring a live soundtrack that is by turns judderingly challenging and swooningly sublime, seeming to operate at a level beyond anything we’ve heard before;

German-based, Nairobi-born sound artist Joseph Kamaru, who records and performs as KMRU, explores the overlaps and contrasts of natural and artificial sound through field recordings and machine learning in As Nature, featuring visuals from Markus Heckman.

Moritz Simon Geist makes dance music with robots in Hard Times – Rough Sounds!, building to a thrilling techno crescendo using dot matrix printers, vacuum flasks and metal fingers. Replacing the familiar, pre-programmed tools of techno musicians with an array of charmingly clunky robotic devices performing paradoxically precise gestures, Geist produces music that flesh and blood can’t help but respond to (all 30 September).

Showcasing Scottish Artists and Others

Showcasing artists from Scotland alongside Ukraine, Sweden, Nigeria, Italy and more, other highlights across the packed two day programme include:

  • A Friday night triple bill of new work with composer and multimedia artist Sonia Killman’s Digital Skies, a peaceful, meditative exploration of natural and man-made constellations with live saxophone and synthesisers; artist-composers Lucy Duncombe & Feronia Wennborg’s assembling.air,  harnessing the breaths, coos, sighs and songs of the human voice to address the potential for AI in musical composition; and Scotland based audio-visual duo muto major consisting of Nigerian-Scottish sound artist Samm Anga and digital visual artist Veronica Petukhov’s Waxen Figures, using sites of historical spiritual significance in Scotland such as the Covesea Caves and the Munlochy Clootie Well to explore how the country’s folkloric past interacts with the present. (29 September)

  • Scanaudience_KimSarah1


  • SCANAUDIENCE, where Italian AV artists SCHNITT make the audience part of the performance by using scanned imagery to produce visuals that they manipulate live in an event that is part Rorschach test, part commentary on surveillance culture. (30 September)

  • Eyve_SiyaoLi2


  • A glorious new set of rap, R&B and hip-hop sung in both English and Shona from young Glasgow-based Zimbabwean singer and rapper Eyve with audio reactive visuals from Veronica Petukhov. (30 September)

  • Raydale Dower’s new project Yoga Fanzine exploring the sculptural potential of sound as the audience focus onto singular, time-stretching sonic elements (30 September)

  • Egyptian artist Ahmed El Shaer’s AI Heaven, a radical experiment in what Islamic Art could look like in the 21st century, pulling away from stereotypical expectations to explore how machines imagine the metaphysical and the transcendental (29-30 September free unticketed)

  • A celebration of twenty years of The Hidden Gardens with two special gigs. There’s freewheeling, joyful performance from playful and funky Scottish tuba and euphonium duo Danielle Price and Martin Lee Price – better known as Dopey Monkey – who will get the unique venue of The Hidden Gardens’ Treehouse bopping to their infectious sound. Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra will perform a special set designed to respond to the surroundings of The Hidden Gardens, where dynamic, intricate rhythms erase boundaries, forge connections and embody the communal joy players and audiences alike find in music (30 September)

  • TER.RAIN, a sinister and beautiful new work about borders and territories from Kyiv-based artist and composer George Potopalsky, applies algorithmic filters to aerial footage, generating 3-D landscapes that seem to depict our own world, yet are partly, largely or completely fictitious. (29-30 September, free unticketed)

Sonica Surge is the first in a year of special events celebrating thirty years of Cryptic, Glasgow’s award-winning art house – connecting the world through the best in audiovisual art and ravishing the senses for three decades.

Tickets go on sale noon Friday 9 June – Buy tickets

Cathie Boyd, Cryptic’s Artistic Director, said:

“We are delighted to kick off the celebrations for Cryptic’s incredible three decades with Sonica Surge – an intensive taster of everything Cryptic stands for. As we toast 30 years of bringing the world’s best audiovisual arts to Glasgow, we welcome Sonica audiences both old and new to immerse themselves in 48 hours of mind-bending, jaw-dropping and unforgettable AV work from internationally-renowned artists and incredible homegrown talent. As one of the World’s foremost electronic artists and musicians, there could be no one better than the legendary Robert Henke to open the first ever Sonica Surge with his CBM 8032 AV.

We are also thrilled to be sharing our anniversary celebrations with two of Glasgow’s cultural landmarks as The Hidden Gardens marks twenty years since they opened on Glasgow’s Southside and  The Goethe Institut’s toasts half a century of promoting German and Scottish cultural relations. We couldn’t ask for better partners to celebrate with.”

Creative Scotland’s Head of Music Alan Morrison commented: “For 30 years, Cryptic have opened our ears and expanded our minds with a world-leading fusion of experimental art and music. Their flagship Sonica festival has provided a platform for some of the most enthralling multimedia work being made anywhere on the planet, bringing together international pioneers and home-grown innovators, some of whom have been nurtured and commissioned by Cryptic themselves. Sonica Surge’s 48-hour explosion of intoxicating art will be the perfect way to celebrate a company who have continually stimulated and provoked Scotland’s culture sector.”

Tickets for all events go on sale at noon on Friday 9 June from Buy tickets

About Cryptic

Established in 1994, Cryptic is Scotland’s internationally renowned home of audiovisual art and experimentation. Founded by Cathie Boyd, and based in Glasgow but with a global reach, Cryptic presents and promotes the most dynamic talents of today and tomorrow as they explore new dimensions in live music, visual and sonic arts and performance, and the weird and wild areas where these disciplines intersect and cross over.

Whether traditional live gigs, club and DJ nights, automated performances or groundbreaking digital experiences, Cryptic events always dazzle the senses, stimulate thought and provoke conversation. Cryptic artists and projects transform existing spaces from theatres to defunct factories, as well as immersing audiences in virtual environments; they make use of traditional musical instrumentation and projection techniques as much as state-of-the-art new technologies that point to the sonic art of the future. 

These dramatically diverse talents and projects are united by the three strands that are key to Cryptic’s mission. Cryptic Artists seeks out and nurtures new and pioneering talents. Cryptic Nights supports and mentors Scottish-based artists, helping them reach the next stage in their creative development. And, every two years, the Sonica Glasgow festival of audiovisual art and performance presents an 11-day programme of international events featuring new and established artists. 

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