Chagall MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 23

Chagall MUTEK, Montreal QC, August 23
Photo: Ella Rinaldo
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Done up like a plush android from the future, Netherlands-born, England-based performer Chagall delivered the most unique show of MUTEK thus far.
 
In order to fully appreciate her performance, first you need to know a little bit about her equipment. Chagall was one of the early adopters of the mi.mu gloves, which are a wearable fusion of textiles and electronic sensors that allow her to control both music and visuals with a literal flick of the wrist.
 
When she first came on stage there was nothing but a blank screen behind her, but some slow arm movements triggered orchestral tones, which simultaneously started to reveal visuals — imagine a picture covered in soot, and each sweep of Chagall's hand uncovered more and more of it each time. Once the visuals were fully exposed, she let the beat drop and then continued to distort everything just by dancing around.

This was all in the first minute, before she had even opened her mouth, and as if the mind-boggling meld of movement, music and technology wasn't enough, she could cut the room in half with her voice, too. Chagall could've simply sang for the night and it would've been an amazing experience, but instead we got to see her actually pick up a bass-line by the scruff of the neck and warp it in the palm of her hand.
 
At one point, she went to take a sip of water between songs and some bass gurgled, which led her to ask the crowd if they "wanted to see if this is all actually real?" So, she proved it, by starting a simple 4/4 rhythm on her laptop and proceeding to run through each function of the gloves. We were given some synths, then bass, followed by filter, and before you knew it, Chagall's voice was booming over top. All she was trying to do was display the technology, but all of a sudden we had a new track on our hands. Nothing off the cuff should be that beautiful.
 
There was just so much to appreciate at Chagall's MUTEK show. You could cut three or four legs off this performance and it would still be coming at you, but the combination of everything together was just pure magic.