Published Jun 09, 2010Representing as many musical sub-genres as artists, MUTEK continues to build its reputation as North America's most comprehensive electronic music festival amongst fans worldwide. Catering to diehard frequency geeks, weekend ravers and even curious newbies, MUTEK took over Montreal's downtown core for five days to promote this year's most cutting-edge, awe-inspiring sounds and visuals
Showcasing ambient and experimental projects, the A/Visions series took place in the soft-seated theatre of the Monument-National with huge, crystal-clear audio and video that could turn any naysayer to an avid blipster. Bernier + Messier perplexed the audience by knocking, bowing and cranking wooden boxes that looked like inventions from a steampunk fantasy. Björk collaborators Matmos dazzled their sold-out crowd with light-hearted compositions, culminating in a stroll through the auditorium with buzzing portable speakers. Unfortunately, [The User]'s "Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers" and its novel premise came as a disappointment, as the audience was subjected to what sounded like the tedious grinding of one printer at a time.
In contrast to the more sophisticated setting of the A/Visions events, the Nocturne series offered a glimpse of the world of alternative club and dance music. Montreal local Mossa raised the temperature about 10 degrees in the stuffed side room of Metropolis with his micro-house anthems and the help of a few friends. Meanwhile, top-billed duo Mouse on Mars garnered only a lukewarm reception from MUTEK fans compared to the other major players in the series. Slamming through unclassifiable grooves and dream noise, Jon Hopkins, Nathan Fake and Actress all offered an interesting alternative to much of the indie club music of recent years, demonstrating a zen-like discipline in the presentation of their compositions as they took time to build tension and create a mood, instead of setting their phasers to kill.
At the SAT, however, King Midas Sound blissfully terrorized eardrums with their booming wall-of-sound beats. The trio manipulated distorted guitars, synths, turntables and delayed vocals before handing it over to label-mate Ikonika for a virtually seamless set of unknown UK funky bangers. Though she primarily stayed away from her own material, Ikonika delivered on what had to be one of the most anticipated shows of the festival, proving without a doubt that she deserves her status as one of the UK's hottest up and coming tastemakers and DJs.
As eclectic and exciting as the city in which it resides, MUTEK once again fascinated Montreal with its 11th year of acts from around the world. Even though an unlucky spell of weather put a damper on the main outdoor component, the huge sonic and visual spectacles indoors were unforgettable and didn't stop MUTEK from letting Montreal know that festival season is officially open.