June 4, 2007

Montreal - Mutek Festival 1

One of the main reasons we enjoy going to Mutek is because the festival puts an emphasis on what is next, as opposed to exhasuting what is already popular. It gives us a chance to discover new artists and music. Additionally, much of the aesthetic of Mutek is devoted to the visual expression of sound. This was the eighth edition of the Mutek Festival and more than a hundred artists from around the globe performed. Our good friend Kyle from Portland joined us for the adventure this year, adding a lot of laughter and deeper conversations to the experience.

Day 1: "A/Visions 1 - Cinema Alive" The first act Clinker eased us into the mood of Mutek with his layered drones and delicate textural imagery. Next our friend Randy Jones from Seattle performed "Six Axioms," a dynamic and vibrant live painting of sounds. The highlight of the night, and possibly the best visual presentation of the festival was performed by Semiconductor from the UK. They worked with NASA scientists and engineers to gather amazing rare video footage of solar flares that they then infused with their live sound performance by emphasizing / de-emphasizing and changing the exposure of the video and images.
"Nocturne 1" From the first night, one particular act to note is Gangpol & Mit from France. They brought back an energy that we thought had faded with wacky Sonig artists like Wang Inc. Mr. Bungle also comes to mind when thinking of a comparison. If they come through your town, you should see them live. Their costumes, toys, amazing and hilarious visuals, and performance energy was one-of-a-kind. Following them was a crazy act by Candie Hank from Germany... this year's Donna Summer.

Day 2: "A/Visions 2 - Classicism in the Digital Age" Mutek has taken another unique angle, focusing on artists that use string instruments to create electronic music. In this set of acts, many artists performed acoustic instruments live and edited them electronically in real-time. Overall the performance felt a little raw and drawn out... beautiful at times... tense at others. It was humbling to realize the effort that went into performing these sounds live.
"Nocturne 2" The focus was on dub and dubstep, with mixed results. Kode 9 and Spaceape put on a great set, but we were wishing it was in an outdoor venue with more space as the SAT (venue) was a little too crowded. We decided to take off for a while and check out Magda and Ritchie Hawtin who were playing at a different club (not affiliated with Mutek). After a long line cue, we entered to what will most likely be the most crowded venue we'll ever attend. Packed with sweaty youthful bodies, almost the entire crowd was intensively dancing. Hawtin sounded great, but we didn't make it through his entire set as it really started to get hot.. there were actually beads of condensed sweat dripping from the ceiling above. We took off and headed back to the SAT, where we caught the final few songs of Rhythm & Sound.

Day 3: "A/Visions 3 - The particles of sound." Atmosphere was the theme given to this set of performances. First was Jamie Drouin & Yann Novak (another seattle resident, check out dragonseye recordings). Followed by German Robert Henke (Monolake) and his presentation of "Layering Buddha." The stage was set at the middle of the room, surrounded on all sides by the audience, and their deep bass sound would boom through the space like thunder. Imagine rain droplets falling into a calm distant lake. Lighting was kept to a minimum (no visuals). You almost have to close your eyes to listen to every sound which begins to articulate imagery within. These masters of sound design share a different (hidden) realm of expression. The live performance was far more compelling than recorded works from the same artist.
"Nocturne 3" A lot of smooth techno tonight: Detalles, Matt Dear's Big Hands, The Mole, and Mathew Jonson w/ Cobbletone Jazz were all solid. Also, it was Aya's birthday and we had our first blowout of the trip... that's always fun. The details aren't important, but lets just say Aya has a mean right hook when she needs it.

Days 4: "Nocturne 4" While it's hard to choose a "best," Gui Boratto from Brazil put on an outstanding set. We like his sound because it is great to dance to and complex enough to simply listen to as well. Beautiful layerings of energetic rhythm and sound... check out his latest album chromaphobia. Michael Mayer put on a solid set that started at 3am, and Miskate brought some variation and light visuals in the auxiliary hall.

1 comment:

  1. "Also, it was Aya's birthday and we had our first blowout of the trip... that's always fun."

    Otanjyoubi Omedetou!


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