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MUTEK / Montréal, Canada / June 2-6, 2010

Over the past eleven years, MUTEK has become an internationally-recognized electronic music festival and this year exceeded all expectations, offering its first major outdoor concert with more programming and showcases than ever before. MUTEK not only topped prior years, but also made it impossible for one person to see everything the festival has to offer. With everything starting on time, MUTEK organizers out-did themselves, deserving a pat on the back for their seamless programming.

mutek banner

The festival started off with the A/Visions showcase, held at the beautiful Monument-National theatre. Montréal artists Bernier and Messier started off the showcase with their North American premiere of La Chambre des machines, where they assembled tension building organic compositions with custom built noise boxes.

bernier +messier

Matmos continued the show with their quirky renditions of mixing psychedelic rock with acid jungle sounds combined with bizarre noises made from squeak toys. Their sense of humour and innovative techniques are enthralling and never boring. [The User] closed the showcase with their piece The Symphony for dot matrix printers. A row of old computers attached to obsolete printers were set up on stage with Thomas McIntosh and Emmanuel Maden conducting the printer orchestra from below. Tiny cameras filmed the event and projected it above. This clever, well-constructed concept would benefit as an installation in an art gallery setting, while as a sit down performance it seemed to go on for a bit too long.


the user

The next event was at the Society of Arts and Technology (SAT) for Nocturne 1. Techno pop innovator, Matias Aguayo performed an enthusiastic celebratory set that had the crowd dancing to his South American rhythms, but unfortunately the delivery seemed a bit sloppy at times. DJ Robolledo succeeded in closing the evening with a much cleaner and solid set full of tasteful deep tech-house numbers that left the crowd smiling.

matias aguayo


A/Visions 2 left a strong impression. Freida Abtan delivered an unfocused set full of gurgling noises mixed with repetitive female vocal chants. This paired with witchy painterly imagery of a woman digging in the earth came across as a clichéd performance. Next was the unforgettable Caretaker. His performance was pressing play on his laptop and watching his own visuals from the best seat in the house, while polishing off an entire bottle of whiskey. The audience painfully watched his fuzzy layered visuals for an hour. To me, it was a big “fuck you” to the audience, but he definitely left a memorable impression, as there was a buzz about his performance for the rest of the festival. At the end of his set he got up from his chair and sang a course heavy-throated version of Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were. You either loved it or hated it. My feelings were definitely the latter. British industrial noise pioneers, Nurse With Wound saved the showcase with their shifting soundscapes and trance-inducing ambient rock improvisations.

the caretaker

nurse with wound

Nocturne 2 was held at the gorgeous Metropolis theatre, the largest venue of the festival. Jon Hopkins stole the show in the main room with his energetic rhythmic breaks and IDM arrangements. Mouse On Mars were attempting something different that night. I found their range of noise to be too aggressive and found relief in the Savoy Room off to the side of the theatre.

jon hopkins

The intimate Savoy Room was the place to be that night. Chris Hreno and surprise guest the Mole stole the night with their minimal tech-house progressions. Together they mastered the concept of taking a simple idea and gradually building it over time making everyone break a sweat on the dance floor. They were by far the highlight of the night and definitely one of the best at the festival.

chris hreno + the mole

Complot label manager Mossa polished the night off with his rhythmic house textures and live collaborations with label mate Dafluke and San Francisco based DJ Qzen, making the Savoy room one of the best dance parties of the festival.

mossa + friends (dafluke + dj qzen)

As part of MUTEK, but not mentioned in the schedule booklet, hardcore Susu Ripatti (Vladislav Delay, Luomo and Sistol) fans gathered at the Musée d’art contemporain to hear his Uusitalo project in the lower level gallery space. Susu Ripatti delivered a gorgeous organic abstract house set full of captivating bass transitions and whimsical melting atmospheric tones. Ripatti’s rhythms slowly reveal themselves and then steadily grow into concise 4/4 structures creating a breathtaking and unforgettable experience.


With so many showcases happening at the same time, it was impossible to see everything, yet I still managed to hear the classical minimal ambient workings of the Marsen Jules Trio accompanied by VJ Nicolai Konstantinovic at A/Visions 3. Martin Juhls constructed gorgeous symphonic repetition textures and performed live with his two talented twin brothers. Nicolai Konstantinovic’s visuals were simplistic, light and meditative, merging the two worlds into a delicate visceral euphoric experience.

marsen jules trio

Nocturne 3 was a bit of a marathon race if you wanted to attend both showcases. I tried to split my time between the two to get a sample of each showcase and then stuck to the one that spoke to me the most. The first showcase was held at the SAT and featured the finest dub and dubstep artists. Victoria-based producers, Overcast Sound, delivered a delicious dub-infused techno set full of introspective ethereal transitions and deep warm pulses similar to the sounds you would find on Echospace. Manchester’s Demdike Stare delivered an astonishing dub techno set that took you deep below the surface. King Midas Sound was too loud and maxed out the sound system. Unfortunately the fuzzy distortions overpowered the beauty of his music. Ikonika closed on decks, with an inventive dubstep set that incorporated Latin and techno flavours.

overcast sound

demdike stare

king midas sound


The other showcase was held at Club Soda, only a few doors down from the SAT and featured innovative techno producers, Orphx, Actress, Cheap and Deep, Jacek Sienkiewicz and Shed. Unfortunately, I mostly missed this showcase and only really caught a glimpse of Actress and Shed. The few minutes I caught of Actress was unfortunately disappointing as he seemed to be experiencing sound problems which resulted in him taking awhile to get going again. Berlin based, Shed stole the night with his uniquely produced Detroit sounding techno that managed to entangle emotional melodies with shifting shuffling rhythms.




Piknic Electronik’s are always held on the weekend of the festival at Parc Jean Drapeau under Alexander Calder's, Expo ‘67 statue "Man." Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t entirely cooperating. The beginning of Piknic 1 was rained out. Everyone scurried for shelter under the food and media tents and by the time Krill.Minima started the rain managed to subside. Krill.Minima (aka Martin Juhls) delivered a gorgeous ambient dub set that was euphorically timed with the emerging sun. Swedish tech-house duo, Minilogue owned the day as they effortlessly shifted from minimal techno to house with ease making for a superb seamless set. Chilling in the sun to Minilogue with Montréal as a backdrop made for yet another unforgettable MUTEK experience. Hamburg’s unpredictable DJ Koze delivered a deep jazzy house set that got everyone smiling despite the fact that the rain started 20 or so minutes into his set. After running around for shelter, I took that as my cue to head back to the city for Vladislav Delay.



dj koze

The final A/Visions moved from the theatre experience to the SAT. Unfortunately, the change in space also meant listening to the sound of the bar in the background. Susu Ripatti performed as Vladislav Delay in the dark and delivered a sparse soundscape full of fragmented mutating organic tones and warm dub-like washes. I found his prior performance as Uusitalo to be stronger; his Vladislav Delay set didn’t progress anywhere, but then that can just be contributed to the difference in his two aliases. Electro-acoustic legend and prolific sound artist, Carl Michael Von Hausswolff played a trance-inducing heavy filtered noise set full of continuous rumbling bass.

Fans go “Coco for Coconuts,” but to be honest I’ve never understood it. At MUTEK in 2003, Senor Coconut had his Moroccan band perform new renditions of Kraftwerk songs. The idea of executing this is hilarious and amusing, but when it actually came to fruition it lost all its appeal, as the novelty just remains a novelty. However, everyone seems to disagree with me as his gimmicky ideas were a huge success at this years festival. Performing for free at Place des Festivals, MUTEK expands its programming by offering the city a taste of this eccentric innovator. His crowd pleasing electro Latino renditions of Daft Punk’s Around the World was a buzz for the remainder of the festival.

senor coconut + his orchestra

Saturday’s Nocturne is the latest going event at MUTEK. The all night showcase requires stamina, but each year those efforts are always rewarded. The night started off with the tasteful productions of Move D, who effortlessly delivered a deep dreamlike house journey. Move D is a master of his craft, as he explores different avenues of genres that subtly flourish with time. Guillaume Coutu Dumont and the Side Effects came on next. I found this to be a little too commercial for my taste and was pleasantly surprised by the discoveries found in the Communikey and Dispatch sponsored Savoy room. D Numbers, a three-piece post-rock electronic band performed an amazing set full of texturally layered hypnotic grooves. Brooklyn based, Smirk delivered a unique quirky set full of vocals, jazz and techno snippets. His dynamic range kept his listeners delighted and on their toes. New York duo, Konque (aka David Last and Sasha Kaline) performed in white space suits and delivered a funky energetic set full of 4/4 beats and wobbly deep baselines. Last but not least, I finished off the night in the main room dancing to the legendary Innervisions label owner and producer, DJ Dixon, who polished off this amazing showcase with a seamless deep soulful house set becoming one of the significant highlights of the festival.

move d

d numbers




Sadly the weather wasn’t on our side on Sunday. MUTEK made the wise decision to move Electronic Piknic 2 to Metropolis. Recovering from the night before, I only managed to make it out for French house producer and DJ, Pépé Bradock. Despite the lack of sun, I found warmth and happiness among the other dancers, specifically the infectious fun loving Decibel Festival crew. Pépé Bradock delivered an adventurous set making the audience groove to disco, acid and French house creating another satisfying moment in MUTEK history.

pepe bradock

The last Nocturne and closing showcase of the festival delivered an eclectic celebratory mix of artists. The prolific talented Moritz Von Oswald Trio (aka Max Loderbauer, Moritz von Oswald and Susu Ripatti) memorized listeners with their mature deep dubby minimalism and cool organic jazz textures. Rising live-electronics trio, Brandt Brauer Frick surprised us with their infectious tight experimental jazz numbers, definitely becoming one of my new favourite artists discovered at the festival. Detroit techno legend Theo Parrish closed down the show and managed to get the crowd’s full attention after encountering some technical problems at the start. His set had everyone hollering after every track, giving the audience a soulful loving smile on their face and completing yet another prolific magical festival experience.

moritz von oswald trio

brant bauer frick

theo parrish

MUTEK 2010 proved to be an overwhelming successful year, delivering yet another eclectic taste of the finest electronic artists from around the globe. Despite where one’s personal taste might fall, the sampling of so many multi-faceted talented artists makes MUTEK uniquely distinct and an essential treasure. One non-techno loving friend came out with me on the last day of the festival and said if I was to die happy, it would be at MUTEK.

For more MUTEK photos and videos click here!


Decibel / Seattle / September 24-27, 2009

Decibel is an international electronic music and digital arts festival that takes place in Seattle, Washington every year. Celebrating its sixth year, Decibel expanded their programming with genre themed showcases; the only dilemma was deciding what to see.

The opening gala took place in the Seattle Art Museum featuring artists from the Detroit-based label, Ghostly. In the theatre, The Sight Below delivered a warm subtle ambient set full of moody percussion patterns, delicately balanced with fuzzy black and white film renderings; together the music and visuals created a haunting performance. San Francisco artist Tycho, aka Scott Hansen, delivered a marvelous nostalgic sun-warped set and shared the stage with Dusty Brown for some new renditions. Scott Hansen is also known for his design work as ISO50. His saturated visuals with warm sentimental glimpses of dreamscape imagery from our childhood made for one of many highlight performances at this year's festival.

the sight below


In the main entrance hall of the gallery, Lusine started the dance party with fresh releases from his new album, A Certain Distance. His smooth house tracks and well-crafted minimal dance compositions made for a small enthusiastic dance floor party, against the backdrop of Cai Guo-Qiang’s piece Stage One.

Up on Capitol Hill, Echospace was rumored to go on early, which unfortunately meant sacrificing the closure of Lusine’s superb set. Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s trendiest neighbourhoods. I was delighted to find Neumos and Sole Repair, two Decibel venues across the street from one another, which enabled festival-goers to jump back and forth between the two showcases. At Neumos, Echospace delivered a beautiful grooving ambient dub set, that sat somewhere between dancefloor euphoria and deep immersion. Across the street, Mikael Stravöstand played live on the balcony deck to a packed house below. His delicious set was full of deep glitchy pulses layered over driven 4/4 beats. The street between the venues became a social vortex of communication. I had the pleasure of talking to Echospace outside for most of the night and was delighted to hear about their creative process. Connecting with other festival-goers and sharing knowledge about new music discoveries became half the experience.

deepchord presents echospace

Friday, I was back at the Seattle Art Museum for a panel discussion involving festival directors and various city promoters regarding whether or not there’s a place for electronic music in North America, as the majority of artists end up moving to Europe to further their careers. They also spoke about a newly formed network called I.C.A.S. (International Cities of Advanced Sound), a global network of independent non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing sound cultures, music and related arts, uniting promoters to collaborate and share costs when bringing in foreign artists. This is a critical new development in the continuation of helping digital artists have a platform for exposure.

The next highlight was Optical 1: Immersion, with Christopher Willits and Raster Noton pioneer, Frank Bretschneider. The scheduling was shuffled around, but it didn’t change the quality of this event. Frank Bretschneider went on first and received the loudest applause out of all the audio/visual theatre experiences. His mathematical deep bass structures, crisp precise clicks and dramatic frequencies become organic through pattern and melody. Mirrored against morphing black and white spiraling shapes, made for a standout striking performance. Christopher Willits presented a warm melodic set layered with live guitar patterns and tonal soundscapes. His set was performed against a backdrop of bright urban landscapes that focused on plant life emerging from cement cracks.

frank bretschneider

christopher willits

Friday night, I spent all my time at the Dirty Dancing International Showcase, taking place at Neumos. I sacrificed going across the street to Sole Repair for Bruno Pronsato, knowing I would catch him later at the Church of Bass afterhours. Upon arrival, Detroit techno pioneer, Rob Hood, instantly pulled me into his trance-inducing minimalism, subtle rhythmic shifts and restrained funky groove. Spain's Alex Under was scheduled to go on next, but unfortunately "due to unforeseen issues with Homeland Security" was unable to make it. Frank Bretschneider went on instead and sadly couldn’t keep the crowd happy with his Raster Noton minimal rhythm aesthetics. Alex Under would have been a perfect fit but throwing Frank Bretschneider into this showcase seemed unfair, especially after witnessing Bretschneider’s prior success in the Optical theatre only a few hours earlier. The Wighnomy Brothers (Gabor Schablitzki and Sören Bodner) were next. They have been together since 2001, and are recognized for their brewing smart, late night dancefloor tracks. Just recently they announced they would no longer perform together after this year, making Decibel’s performance a historical one on many levels.

rob hood

wighnomy brothers

The last highlight of the day was Seattle producer and German resident Bruno Pronsato at the Church of Bass afterhours. Bruno Pronsato has a unique voice within the minimal tech-house scene and delivered a dynamic percussive funk set full of swirling unexpected rhythmic patterns.

bruno pronsato

Despite some scheduling delays and set changes all hiccups disappeared from our thoughts with the euphoric and flawless closing ceremonies.

Goldmund, Benoit Pioulard and Mountains performed at the Triple Door, an amazing 1920’s dinner theatre. The theatre is beautiful and historically preserved creating the perfect ambiance for Goldmund’s warm and intimate solo piano compositions. Also known for his Helios moniker, Goldmund’s passionate modern classical arrangements are delicately restrained and incredibly moving making nothing short of a magical experience. Benoit Pioulard (aka Thomas Meluch) sat on the floor of the stage and delivered some fuzzy warm psych-folk songs created with guitar, looping pedals, accordion and microphones. Brooklyn’s Apestaartje label owners, Mountains (aka Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg) delivered an astonishing Americana modern classical set with live guitar, electronic distortions and looping samples of found objects. The whole experience left the audience buzzing from their shimmering nuances and densely driven soundscapes.


benoit pioulard


And if the Triple Door concert wasn’t satisfying enough, it was time to unleash ourselves to Reagenz (aka Move D and Jonah Sharp) and Alter Ego at the Finale. Despite their hiatus since their first release in 1994, Reagenz proved they're meant to be together with their stunning live set. Together they skillfully delivered a deep delicious tech-house set full of seamless funky live baselines and deep ambient fluidity. Legendary producers, Alter Ego (aka Roman Fluegel and Joern Elling Wuttke) closed the festival down with an epic set full of bass driven dancefloor stompers that had everyone dancing and smiling.


alter ego

Overall, the festival was a great success with many standout performances and experiences. Decibel managed to successfully attract more people through their genre-themed showcases, making this year their most well attended festival to date.

For more Decibel photos and videos click here!

A shorter edited version of this article was published in Musicworks Magazine. Issue 107, July.
Due to publishing delays, I was unable to post this review until now.

For information on this year's festival check out


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