Mutek Montreal QC - June 1 to 5, 2005

Mutek Montreal QC - June 1 to 5, 2005
By Amanda Connon-Unda, Lorraine Carpenter and Melissa Wheeler asKaa 1 This was the first of five performances using the installation piece by Montreal media sculptors Skoltz_Kolgen, who invited Richard Chartier to participate. Projected on two large screens opposite each other was a garden of plant silhouettes and the odd 3-D virtual shape, all of which reacted to stimulus and created their own sounds. Unfortunately, S_K decided to approach this first installation as a picture rather than explore the garden's 3D capabilities, and it was difficult to tell which sounds were making which plants do what. Of the three distinct compositions in the asKaa 1 set, the last was the most compelling, using Chinese-sounding snippets of conversation and filling in the sound structure to resemble a song, whereas the other compositions were more random. It would work well as an interactive permanent museum piece but it's difficult to digest in one passive sitting. MW Dafluke This is the latest project for busy Complot label co-founder Lucas Granito. The best thing about his rudimentary tech-house set was the bemused expression on his face as he watched the largely sober early evening MUTEK crowd attempt dancing. With the sun still beaming through the overhead skylight, it was hardly roof-raising time, but Granito kept the crowd on its toes (figuratively, if not literally) with some cool leftfield sounds and almost comic contrasts, placing bare beats next to over-the-top vocal samples. LC Galerie Stratique Once a classical prodigy and teenage electronic experimenter, Quebec City's Charles Émile-Beullac explored beautiful, bittersweet textures with a trusty laptop, synths and an instrument resembling a piece of industrial equipment; its long metal spikes played alternately with a bow and a xylophone hammer. His set consisted of four-to-five minute pieces, with their dark, melancholic mid-paced sound bearing a striking resemblance to Bristol, circa '95, albeit with more distortion, sputtering beats, bleeps and crunches. LC Galoppierende Zuversicht Galoppierende Zuversicht from Zurich had a lively stage presence and physical movement; it is the two performers stated aim to challenge detractors of the electronic genre by showing it is not static. With flashlights on their heads and their confident movements using mixers, synthesisers and drum machines, with no trace of a computer, they built layers of music with breakdowns and build-ups that got the audience moving to their intricate beats. Toward the mid-end of their set, the two played an old school acid sound using the 303 that recalled rave music with pulsating beats and bass lines. ACU Simon Guibord A member of Hull's Sulpont collective, Guibord played a short, semi-sweet set alongside guitarist and composer Olivier Fairfield. The initially fragmented sound built slowly and grew increasingly dense as layers of deep, bowel-y bass, shrill noise and tech-house vocal samples were piled onto a base of hard beats, digital psychedelia and subtle treated guitar. Once built, the somewhat substandard climactic cacophony ended abruptly. LC Mathew Jonson Starting by sounding like every other generic rounded edge techno artist with less than compelling 2D visuals, it took 20 minutes for Jonson to come out of his safety shell. Once he did though, look out! Hitting bastard disco, house and tech with a few epic trance breakdowns, he sailed around in a broad 2D landscape that had more of a Mega Bloks feel than Lego but also balanced blocky beats against fine, forceful melodic rhythms. The set was comforting, grandiose and, at times, slightly predictable, but by the end of his set I was made a believer. MW Luci Dafluke seemed a lot like a warm-up act once his fellow Montrealers Luci started wrapping the room in their rich, playful tech-house web. With backgrounds in percussion and electro-acoustic composition, Guillaume Coutu Dumont (of Egg, Flabbergast and Racam) and nAnalog's David Fafard took a tasteful approach to layering their hearty beats, immersive melodies and good-time grooves, and the dance floor responded, even when the duo aimed to disturb with clever curve balls. Look for Luci on the Mutek label. LC Nego Mocambique Nego Mocambique of Brazil ended the week of Mutek with a warmth and passion unparalleled by most performers. His songmanship, combined with the fusion of breaks, techno, house, Brazilian funk carioca, electro, reggaeton, and funk, made for a diverse hybrid sound. His talent as a dancer became evident as he danced in the middle of the stage throughout his performance. The innovation and creativity of Mocambique's performance was present at every turn, especially in his ability to combine genres without resorting to cultural tourism or cliché. The joy in his music translated extremely well for the enthusiastically dancing audience. ACU Monolake and nAnalog Stunning! Earlier on in the festival, Monolake (as Robert Henke) did a set based on thunder, and the awe and space of nature carried into his Nocturne 4 set. He moved in and out of different themes, keeping the techno base with broken beat, classic early hip-hop and some African rhythms woven in substantially. The set was shaped by the constantly changing tones and accents keeping the variety of simultaneous rhythms diverse. Fluid, spacious and charged, it was an active set accompanied by nAnalog's bright visuals. In spite of the fact that he played early, the audience was clearly attentive and appreciative. MW Pan/Tone aka Sid LeRock Shelbono "Barricuda" del Monte (aka Sid LeRock, Gingo Grinder, or Pan/Tone) is a man with many names but he delivered what he is best known for. Pan/Tone served up his "rockno" vibe with amplified beats, monster guitar sounds and distorted synths. His performance let people release some of their pent-up energy and added a clubby rock-out vibe to Mutek's intelligent showcase. Pan/Tone's tunes kept people hyped and closed the evening with a bang. Four stars for the ex-Torontonian techno dude who's now living in Berlin! ACU Pheek vs. Off the Sky For Mutek's finale, Pheek vs. Off the Sky showed us what they're about. The two electronic musicians have been working together via the internet and file sharing but never in person until earlier that week in preparation for Mutek. Each is a fantastic artist in their own right, and their show encapsulated their collaborative sound as slower and melodic with intricate rhythms and sequences, at once danceable, but equally easy to stand back and listen to. Their performance was a seamless dance between the two partners who were totally in synch, on the same level with each other and their audience. ACU Bruno Pronsato While definitely banging, there was something a wee bit rave-y about BP's set. His melodic but bulky techno-lite came off as a throwback without the context of a retrospective (read: it was slightly stale). He did however fill the space nicely, and there were a handful of moments when I could see people rev up to dance their asses off. But the set, in spite of its many successful build ups, never took off. I had to ask five people who he was before I got the correct answer. MW Sense Club Mutek's Nocturne 4 featured star act was to be Sense Club (Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano), but unfortunately Villalobos wasn't able to make his flight. But the show must go on and in Luciano's live set (sans Ricardo), he played dark and brooding sounds, then faster rolling loops and bass lines with a dance floor vibe. Luciano played effortlessly with the computer and mixer, relying on the references he likes most: Detroit techno, glitch and Latin rhythms. Unfortunately, there was a brief power failure for his laptop, but Luciano soon continued, much to the joy of the enthusiastically dancing crowd. ACU SoulPhiction featuring Suzana Rozkosny This magical and charismatic duo from Philpot Records made their North American debut at Mutek with a compelling finesse. SoulPhiction's (aka Michel Baumann) big room bass, techno and synths paired with Suzana's hypnotic, confident, deep and melodic vocals made for an exhilarating performance. They combined many sounds from hip-hop, sultry house and the influences of the Three Chairs label from Detroit, featuring the sounds of Theo Parish. The result was a captivating performance of two of the most effective performers one has ever listened to or watched at Mutek. ACU Staalplaat Soundsystem This Dutch/German duo describes their Yokomono project as a "mono erosive surround sound installation." In other words, ten toy trucks on ten spinning records transmitting random FM signals to ten transistor radios with the duo manning mixers, introducing samples and frantically replacing batteries at irregular intervals. The hypnotic RPMs of the red plastic gadgets were easy on the eyes, in contrast to the deep, rhythmic heaving and abrasive noise they helped emit like a long bout of nausea interspersed with ice cream headaches. LC