bneely (bneely) wrote,

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the best of mutek_10

i recently returned from montreal, where i attended the 10th edition of the mutek electronic music festival. it was my third time at the mutek festival. i had a festival passport, allowing me entry into every event. holes were punched in the laminated passport upon admission, and i'm pleased to report that i got every event hole punched (although i didn't stay for the duration of each event).

if you're interested in electronic music, this list of my favorite performances might give you some new or familiar artists to explore, and perhaps encourage you to consider attending future mutek festivals.

1 - wolfgang voigt, "gas". really compelling abstract music and structured noise, coupled with haunting images meant to suggest an acid trip in a forest. this performance was on the first day of the festival, and i was previously unaware of his work. this was the best performance out of all of the mutek festivals i have attended so far.

2 - uwe schmidt, "atom tm". at a german electronic music "oral history" discussion panel before his performance, uwe explained his relocation to chile and the formation of his "rather interesting" record label. he explained the formation of his label as a corrective measure so he didn't have to deal with the narrowly-focused industry that developed around the electronic music scene in the 1990s. he had a great sense of humor, interesting stories, and following that, a really quirky and excellent live performance. on the wall behind him was projections of some ASCII artwork and the user interface screen from his akai mpc (which was the lone music-making device with him on stage, unless i'm mistaken).

3 - non-standard institute. a guy named tobias bought a roland tr-808 in the early 1980s, and has used it in every performance since. this performance hinted at detroit/berlin techno, but was more abstract and more carefully crafted than the word "techno" might suggest to some. it looked like the drum machine was being sequenced via midi, which meant that he wasn't just looping patterns via the tr-808's built-in sequencer.

4 - nortec collective presents bostitch and fussible. the four-member nortec collective now records and tours as two separate two-person teams, and these two guys brought their own version of kraftwerk's kling-klang on stage with them, along with several live musicians (playing guitar, accordion, tuba, trumpet, and singing). this performance was fascinating to watch and hear, and the crowd ate it up.

5 - robert henke and christopher bauder, "atom". i could have looked online to find out what to expect before going, but i didn't. all i really knew was that an eight-by-eight grid of helium balloons was involved. robert henke and monolake provided a couple of great performances at mutek 2005, so i was eager to see this even though my fascination with monolake's formula has softened over the years. this performance was really nice, with a more abstract and less beat-driven audio side, and a fascinating visualization of the sound floating through the center of the room.

6 - deadbeat. scott montieth came from the Montreal scene but is now a Berliner, as many serious electronic musicians are these days. i saw some great back-room dub from him last year, and this year, he rocked the main room with a more beat-driven performance.

7 - artificiel. this duo was commissioned by the mutek team to present a work called "power", which utilized an arcing electronic contraption of some sort to provide unique visuals and either perfectly-synchronized sounds, or the sounds themselves.

8 - thomas fehlmann. i have seen thomas fehlmann perform live several times, and his performances are kind of a known quantity because they sound very much like his recorded works. thomas also participated in the "oral history" panel, and told a story of how german electronic music was showcased during the seoul olympics in 1988.

9 - snd. i don't know why, but i wasn't expecting too much out of this performance. it started out kind of slow, but really developed nicely into layers of structured noise. i'm not really doing the performance justice here. the visuals were quite minimal but complemented the sound perfectly.

10 - mathew johnson and dandy jack. i was particularly excited about having south american performers such as dandy jack at the festival, because i fondly remember luciano's incredible live set from mutek 2005. (by the way, luciano was originally scheduled to perform live alongside ricardo villalobos as "sense club", but that was one of the times that ricardo missed his flight.) this project though was a bit more of a straight-ahead club music thing, so it was nice but a bit too ordinary for my current tastes.

11 - modeselektor + apparat = moderat. i saw modeselektor at mutek 2008 and again in san francisco, so i was familiar with their bombastic audio and visual assault. apparat really had a mellowing influence on them, so this performance was a surprise favorite for me this year.

12 - akufen. in another rumored case of "montreal musician relocates to berlin", akufen presented new material for the first time in 5 years, showcasing his abilities with what some would call microhouse.

edit: hey, holy crap, i unfairly left out

13 - burnt friedmann and jaki liebezeit. live electronic music with a real jazz feel, along with live drumming. this was really something special.

the quality of performances was really high at mutek_10, but having the really innovative performances come before the more standard-format nocturne and piknic events seemed backwards to me. on the other hand, the festival probably depends on big club crowds to generate income. i will likely attend mutek in montreal again, but not right away.

also: i have a mutek 2009 photo set on flickr.
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