Mutek 2003 May 28 to June 1, Montreal QC

Mutek 2003 May 28 to June 1, Montreal QC
By Joshua Ostroff and Lorraine Carpenter Algorithm Toronto's Jeff Milligan kicked off Saturday night's main event with his first live performance in over four years and the nervousness shone through in the intense concentration on his face. Milligan's new compositions offered the night's only real chin-stroking moments, all while keeping his minimal funk tight and click-y. JO Cobblestone Jazz Victoria, BC's Cobblestone Jazz wasted no time revving up the RPMs with their three-pronged attack. DJ/producer Mathew Jonson, keyboardist Danuel Tate and programmer Tyger Dhula performed live jazz/house without any traditional instruments. Their deep tech/house beats roiled under the atmospheric keyboard shards, piano tinkling and blippy funk. JO Coil With space junk and snowfall lighting effects hitting their hooded abominable snowman costumes, this legendary British duo stood facing each other and fiddling with machines to deliver vaguely song-oriented electronic pieces. At times ambient and slight, at others dark and rough, they hinted at their industrial past but lacked the digital harshness heard in Mutek's more aggressive acts. LC Deadbeat If you ever need some tunes for your sultry opium den, Montreal's Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) could be your man. Of course, his signature sound is equally fitting for any other soothing sensory experience, as long as there's an element of danger involved — it's not new age, after all. This set had its dark, unnerving moments when the fleshy and fluid dub textures and beats escalated to nearly banging proportions before settling back into more relaxed tempos and "I can't believe it's not analogue" zones. LC Matthew Dear Hailing from Chicago, but hooked up with Ann Arbor's avant-techno outfit Ghostly International, Matthew Dear (who also records M_nus/Plus 8 as False) was backed by vaguely distracting visuals. Dear tapped away at his laptop and followed a straightforward minimal techno blueprint. The beats kept a relatively relaxed pace and, while sounding slightly repetitive thanks to his rhythmic obsessiveness, Dear kept the heat on and the crowd roiling by rolling out overwhelmingly large and gratifying bass lines. JO Richie Hawtin Intent on playing a "Mutek set," with turntables, final scratch, a laptop and effects boxes, Hawtin stayed weird and minimal with occasional bursts of treble rushes and techno beat-downs. But even if we didn't really get anywhere, Hawtin did reveal his new hairdo (yep, hair!) and drop a couple of his brand new industrial-influenced Plastikman tracks. JO Lucien N Luciano Last January, Mutek fulfilled its global ambition with a Micro_Mutek one-off festival in Chile; returning the favour is Chilean producer (and Geneva resident) Luciano, who creates what the Mutek kids dub "Latinotronic." His glitchy techno, featuring the odd trance-y segue and a low rumbling bass, set the crowd a dancing, especially when Senor Coconut's band came out to back up his laptop. JO Montag "I hope you're not allergic to melody," said local kid Montag (Antoine Bédard) at the start of his sweet set of songs largely drawn from his Are You a Friend? LP. Negotiating slight laptop-isms with lush, organic soundscapes, Montag probably floored a few of the Mutek faithful with his show and tell. He explained what his songs were about and, on nearly every track, pulled out some old time instruments, like guitar, violin, tambourine, melodica or chimes, while also playing some stately keyboards for that warm, vintage vibe. LC Pole With new hip-hop inflections and a rapper to match, micro-dub pioneer and ~scape label head Pole (Germany's Stefan Betke) played some of his uber-influential solo sounds as an hors d'oeuvre before introducing Fat Jon — tsk, tsk, he's not even fat! — an American rapper whose wordy smarts rode well through quasi-funky layers of rhythmic and melodic minutia. LC T. Raumschmiere The so-called Iggy Pop of minimal techno came out in a wife-beater and sweats to stalk, rawk and climb all over his table — that's valuable equipment, man! — occasionally tweaking a knob and obsessively fiddling with a little set of keys like it was going to tell him something really important. His largely pre-recorded sounds were skewered with mechanical chaos and led by highly danceable beats that swerved between glam rock, low techno and house. LC Senor Coconut It's nice to see a concert hall of techno geeks cheering euphorically for a real honest-to-goodness trumpet blaring out some salsa. Thanks to the conceptual genius of the German-behind-the-laptop, Atom Heart, it somehow fit perfectly. The techno experimentalist retired his Latin Kraftwerk cover band with this final full orchestra run through. Sure it's sort of stupid, but as the Venezuelan lead singer scatted out "Trans Europe Express," it was hard not to smile, especially when some guy in a sombrero started a conga line. No, really. JO [Sic] One of MUTEK's few women, [Sic] (Montreal's Jennifer Morris) specialises in sinister, droning soundscapes — a potential score for sped-up film of rotting fruit. The mood threatened to lighten now and then, only to give way to more chilling, ambient passages. The deep, warped bass played off tech squiggles and shrill echoes, a sound enhanced (and sometimes offset) by the snowy slow-mo nature scenes projected behind her. David Suzuki and David Lynch unite. LC Sixtoo Minimal hip-hop-titian and Halifax native Sixtoo (Rob Squire) is a very welcome addition to Montreal and to the Ninja Tune family. If "trip-hop" wasn't the tired tag of '95, it would effectively describe his blend of e-pad hip-hop beats, creeping musique concrete and turntable trickery, the latter performed by his buddy P-Love, who also had his bouts with an organ. These seemingly disparate sounds flowed beautifully, building an exciting tension between the choppy scratches, shrill drones and the warmer melodies and easy beats. LC