In anticipation of Montreal’s MUTEK festival, moving into its 16th edition on May 27th – 31st, 2015, I’m recalling the previous year’s installment of “mind and body bending artistry operating at the leading edge of technology, music, digital creativity and live performance.” MUTEK’s unique approach at combining music and technology, while incorporating sonic and visual arts, is precisely what’s drawing me on an annual pilgrimage, to the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec. In this teaser installment I flash back on a few standout moments early in the festival with a short preview of performances to come!

During last year’s beautiful Wednesday afternoon, Richie Hawtin spun tech-house minimal beats at a surprise outdoor appearance. The bass traveled along the plaza of Place des Arts, while only a few blocks away, a different audience was mesmerized by a film screening of I Dream Of Wires (2014), a documentary on the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer [see the embedded trailer above] featuring Trent Reznor, Carl Craig, Morton Subotnick and more. The evening festivities continued with performances by Secret Pyramid, whose subdued ambient waves submerged in soft pastel hues, gently swayed the crowd. I recommend you check out his last two albums, Movements Of Night (2013) and Into The Black (2014), both released by Students Of Decay. Later, Jonas Reinhardt switched up the tempo with his art-rock techno arpeggios, analog bleeps and spacey visuals, “fusing nostalgia for a 1970s electro past with a new sounds of a hopeful present“.

At the highly anticipated A/Visions showcase, Nicolas Bernier & Martin Messier once again manipulated their wooden constructions, extracting industrial noise from their handmade machines, bringing together electro-acoustic sounds with movement and stage performance. This “living symphonic audio-visual” piece was followed by Nonotak, a French-Japanese duo of Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto, blending elements of glitch with projection-mapped images on geometric structures. My second festival night ended back at the MAC, hopping between Egyptrixx and Shackleton, until I decided to retire for the night and save some energy for the many more shows to come.

As I look over the upcoming programming of MUTEK, I try to hold back my impatience for A/Visions, which is yet to be announced. This year’s festival opens on Wednesday, with a showcase of promising new Canadian producers, featuring Evelyn Drouin’s (aka MINI) audiovisual project debut with Nelly-Eve Rajotte, plus performances by Cabaal, Boundary, WaveshaperBilly Dalessandro & Ombossa, and Hugues Clément, whose video-mapping installations focus on formalism, abstract / tangible juxtaposition and relationship between audio/visual technology. I’ve included a preview of Clément’s pieces above, which will surely piqué your interest as it did mine.

Stay tuned for more on my past MUTEK experiences and the upcoming performances in 2015!


Words by HC