There are more than a few things that I love about MUTEK. The first is its host city, Montreal, which I happily continue to visit in the warm month of May. Its multilingual crowd, eclectic boutiques, diverse cuisine and beautiful architecture offer plenty of opportunities to explore the grounds during the daytime. The festival itself is sponsored by multiple Canadian government entities, and this association breaks down many financial barriers, allowing the festival to bloom to its full potential. Many of the events this year (just like the year before) will be held at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) which is an absolutely incredible venue, elevating the prestige of the programming well above the rest. And finally it is, of course, the audio-visual performances, showcasing many of the world renown artists, as well as a fantastic roster of Canadian musicians awaiting to be discovered by you!
I recall my experience from last year (2014), which began with a dark smokey room, filled with bodies fighting against the slab of bass produced by Tim Hecker. I remember feeling as if I was suspended on top of a heavy hard stone, reverberating with deep subatomic pulsations, evoking a transcendence, but not of rising, but rather of imploding within. As I crawled out of this slow void, I found myself upstairs, listening to the glitchy post-Autechre experimental twists of Jesse Osborne-Lanthier (Noir) and Grischa Lichtenberger, who in 2012 impressed me with his And IV (Inertia) release on Raster-Noton. Approaching the stage I noticed the quarter-inch plugs attached to TV screens, which appeared to pick up the noise fed back into the fluctuating patterns of dark beats and non-melodic sculptures. These granular waves and shuddering bass left a lasting impression on me with a desire for more.
My first night continued with a performance by Oneohtrix Point Never and his playful chopped vocals, sonic confetti, and beatless swirls of sounds mirroring the kaleidoscope of semi random warped images on the screen. Here, Daniel Lopatin, exposed us to the abandoned sounds previously unloved, abstract, conceptual and at times humorous (if you understood the inside joke). The Ouverture continued with the dubby chords and pulsating beats by Robert Lippok, inviting the crowd to move for the first time during the night. The organic and rhythmic patterns projected the sound over the minimalistic landscape visuals until Kangding Ray came on and dropped his staple surgically-precise pristine beats. And all of this happened only on the first night!
This year, based on the announcements with the second wave of artists, after the first night of new Canadian producers, MUTEK will open with a Tribute to Light, a special program of light based performances, featuring the audioreactive work of Takami Nakamoto, Dasha Rush, Lumisokea, Atom™ & Robin Fox while at the very same time (based on the schedule which is already tightly packed) MAC’s Salle BWR will feature live performances by Pheek, Lucy, Richard Devine, Mika Vainio and Basic House! I can already picture myself running up and down the stairs, trying to pick the best among the two worlds of sound!
Stay tuned for more on my past MUTEK experiences and the upcoming performances in 2015!
Words by HC