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Compared to previous years, the eighth edition of Mutek proved to be disappointing, for numerous reasons.

It began with Cafe Electronika at Hotel Godin. The three-day event sponsored by CBC Bandeapart was poorly executed and delivered a dated concept at a festival that prides itself as being on the cutting edge of technology. Thirty Canadian artists performed from locations across the country and were broadcast live into the hotel. Unfortunately, very few attendees actually knew that this was what was going on. I spoke to one listener who had no idea what had been happening for the last three hours until I explained the concept to him. It was uneventful, with no visual elements or link between the audience and the experience. There should have been a live web-cam of the artists, so there could be some connection or understanding that it was happening live, and that it wasn’t just a cd playing background music for people to meet-up and lounge. Perhaps having the live broadcast cut costs, but what’s the point of attending a festival when the artists you want to see aren’t actually visible. The local Montreal artists did perform live which was the only saving grace of this poorly executed event. I’m praying that this concept won’t be repeated at Mutek again.

Wednesday evening, Nocturne 1 turned out to be a spectacle and an experience I won’t forget. Kitschy, grandma, circus freak, and happy hardcore extravaganza are the words I would use to summarize the night, as opposed to clean or minimal. When entering the SAT (the Society of Arts and Technology), to the right of the entrance was a table full of stuffed animal parts that people could destroy and sew together. People seemed to be enjoying it, but to me it was a throw back to the tacky rave stereotypes of electronic music (think soothers, candy bracelets and fun-fur). Mutek has worked hard to take dance music to a new level, and suggest that idm is in fact intelligent dance music, an art form worthy of respect. It was disappointing to see the organizers revert to these tired old clich├ęs.

The line-up that night didn’t prove to be any better. The first performance was by Pero and the Electric Machine, which sounded like Adult mixed with T. Raumshmiere. A blend of electro-clash, rock and roll and shaffle, which was all the rage a couple of years ago. The second act was so over the top it blew me away. Gangol & Mit created circus-freak happy hardcore music. It was entertaining for three songs but then became too much to handle. The visuals were well done and matched the music perfectly, but it seemed like a novelty act or a performance piece. The deal breaker of the night was Candie Hank, who bombed. Break-core crap mixed with allot of talking. Some spectators said it was a joke, but I wasn’t laughing. His music cleared out the venue, and I left as well, having endured too much pain to stay for the last act.

Nocturne 2 was an improvement, featuring dub artists Rhythm and Sound, and Kode 9. It was less offensive than the previous night, although still not really my thing.

Usually, the A/Visions events prove to be true highlights at Mutek. A/Visions 1 had some emotionally stunning work by Boris & Brecht Debackere and Semiconductor, but A/Visions 2 was just plain bad. Mark Templeton, who I adore, played first. His albums are delicate and lovely, and have been compared to Fennesz. However the sound was too loud and all the subtle moments were lost in the blaring. Also, I can appreciate film, but the visuals by Aaron Munson were so boring. Lines dancing back and forth on trees, the same image for over an hour. I don’t know if Mark was just giving one of his friends a break, but after this first year art school project, I doubt any other artists will be interested in collaborating with him. Colleen fumbled around like an idiot. She kept on tuning her instruments, and it was difficult to tell the difference between her performance and when she was taking a moment to prepare. At one point she was shaking her cello upside down due to a loose object affecting one of her strings. Also, in the middle of the set, when she couldn’t find a pin and had to ask for help on stage, all the lights in the theatre came on. The charade was painful to watch. I love her music but seeing her live made me lose all respect for her. So many professional musicians would have killed for an opportunity to play Mutek and she blew it. It’s apparent that what you do in the studio doesn’t always work live.

The festival finally made a turn for the better on Friday night at Metropolis, with the Mole and Cobblestone Jazz who were incredible. Kalabrese was alright, mediocre house music with quirky lyrics, which sounded good for what it was. Despite mic problems, Matthew Dear delivered an overall good performance.

Pantha du Prince, one of my favourite artists and the main reason I attended Mutek, delivered a quality set featuring some new tracks. Unfortunately, he was the first artist to perform in the Kompakt showcase, and he deserved a better time slot when a larger crowd was present. I also had to argue with the sound guy to get him to turn up the volume, and while I was requesting this others were also approaching him for the same reason. Jichael Mackson started off strong, but then it became repetitive and dull. Matias Aguayo’s sexy soulful tech-house sounded muddy and sloppy with singer Marcus Rossknecht. Gui Boratto worked the crowd into a frenzy and received the loudest applause at the end of his set. Michael Mayer was in good spirits when he came on at 3:00 am. Unfortunately, I was unable to last for his entire set due to tiredness. The biggest surprise that night was Miskate in the second room. Her minimal deep techno was superb and has only made me want to hear more.

Piknic was great. Perfect weather after a week of rain, combined with seamless, polished music, created the perfect outdoor party vibe. It was a happy closure to an overall disappointing festival.

boris & brecht debackere


gangpol & mit

the SAT

panel 1 / demo derby / philip sherburne, patti schmidt, kode 9, marc leclair

panel 1 / demo derby / seth horvitz, mike shannon

mark templeton

rhythm & sound

deadbeat & sophie trudeau

robert henke


crowd at metropolis

the mole

cobblestone jazz

claude von stroke


my my

chic miniature


pantha du prince



gui boratto

michael mayer


efdemin and carsten jost / split ep / dial

ryoji ikeda / dataplex / raster noton
boomkat review

cyclo (ryoji ikeda and carsten nicolai) / untitled / raster noton
boomkat review