MUTEK 6th EDITION - 2005
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Pain is Worth the Reward
Sanity - I wondered where mine had disappeared to while enduring a 34 hour bus ride cross country to Montreal, Quebec. Sleep deprived thoughts consumed my mind while I repeatedly tried to maintain composure sitting millimeters away from the passenger to my left. A sore back, full bladder and a never-ending growling stomach - what is worth this agony, one might ask. I can proclaim with great confidence that a certain festival that occurs annually, in a city that is commonly known for its ethnic culture and diversity was worth every agonizing moment.
MUTEK- Music, Sound, and New Technologies
The MUTEK Festival is the brainchild of a non-profit organization based in Montreal, QB (Canada) - who has been working hard since the year 2000 to bring the public high quality and international programs. MUTEK is the catalyst for creation, connecting international and local artists together unfastening the doorway to an endless formation of breakthrough sounds. Over the last five years, MUTEK has successfully earned the reputation to consistently deliver highly innovative products, crafted by strategically selected artists from all corners of the world. Their ability to dive deep into the diverse realms of the electronic and “techno” culture to bring you cutting edge digital sound, music, and audiovisual creation; earns them the right to boast about their accomplishments.
Having attended the last three editions of MUTEK, the 6th Edition even furthered my respect for the festival and their ability to remain organized, functional, and highly reputable. Having said that, it’s with great excitement to see that their success is vastly growing. MUTEK welcomed close to 12,000 visitors (more than any other year) and are already in preparation for the 7th Edition to occur in 2006. Plans to venture even further across the globe are currently underway with performances to be held in Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Argentina and Asia. The successful launch of the MUTEK_REC label continues to remain in motion, and is currently being distributed in more than twenty countries featuring: artist albums, collaboration projects, and festival compilations.
MUTEK is sure to burn a hole in the reality of the electronic culture by captivating the minds of the individual. With no question, they will secure a place in history for time indefinite based on their merit as a dedicated organization with a mandate to increase world-wide awareness of all artists who deserve immeasurable respect, to the general public.
This was my third jaunt to MUTEK for a reason apparent to those who have a thirst for digital creation that re-wires your brain, tugs on your heart strings, and moves your body beyond logical control. I was accredited by the MUTEK Media Team as a representative for a local radio station in my home town of Winnipeg (Manitoba, CA) - 101.5 CJUM, and an over-seas company known as GrooveTrackers.com, based in the Netherlands. Upon fully immersing myself in the MUTEK environment, I was left with nothing but sweet sensations satisfying my creative itch for another year. The level of inspiration I acquired is still rampant, and my creative juices haven’t stopped flowing since I’ve returned home.
Upon stumbling into Musee Juste Pour Rire, I was instantly directed by one of the team members to get my picture taken for my Press Pass. You can only imagine the horror upon my face - having a picture taken of my fatigued mug with a 34 hours bus ride as its make-up. After swallowing my pride, I was finally equipped with the necessary access pass, not to mention greeted with a warm and welcoming smile by the head of the Media Team, who was quick to express her gratitude towards my attendance and level of commitment towards MUTEK.
After darting out the door, it was a quick stop to the corner-mart to pick up a case of beer and a pack of cigars to kick off a delicious week in Montreal.
MUTEK featured four venues for the main performances: Ex-Centris, Musee Juste Pour Rire, Metropolis, and Place de l’Homme in Parc Jean-Drapeau. Maps provided to each venue by the MUTEK Team made locating the festivities a snap. Proper planning ensured that the venues were within proximity of each other (excluding Place de l’Homme) which made it possible for those who wanted to attend multiple events in one calendar day. Not to mention, this also made for good stumbling distance for those who consistently partied with their friend “Jack Daniels” and “Johnny Walker.”
The indoor venue of choice for a perfectly blended atmosphere was Musee Juste Pour Rire which remained mood-lit for the course of the evening. The venue featured three rooms each adding to the artist’s performance in a special way. Le Placard, a technology workshop on the main floor, was lit an ambient blue which enhanced the experience of those who in a lounge-like state, partook its clickery. A Venetian style backdrop showcased dancing visuals that ranged from all sides of the spectrum was accompanied by a million crystal glimmers of light, on the second floor. To add to the eye candy, the room featured three warehouse sized windows that overlooked a breathtaking horizon of a Montreal nightscape. A red blaze of light filled the experimental room on floor number three, with an aluminous fiery glow that toyed with the minds of the observers, as they physically sat still but continued to become moved. Metropolis brought it home with the astounding audio display. Two slender speakers stood tall on each side of the main stage casting out perfectly crisp percussion and warm rolling bass-lines. The journey to Place de l’Homme in Parc Jean-Drapeau was a lengthy cab ride miles away from the cluster of venues which was situated in a beautiful park that consisted of green hills, tall trees, and fresh bodies of water. Adding the element of nature to electronic music undoubtedly heightened the entire experience caressing the minds, bodies, and souls of the performers and partygoers. A dose of Vitamin D kissed the skin of each individual heating the rhythmically moving dance floor as pieces of clothing continued to slowly vanish. Clear sound with no walls to bounce off of enhanced the quality of each relentless beat that spilled out of the surrounding speakers. No walls - no barriers - no boundaries - this venue portrayed the exact definition of electronic music. The heat nourished the vibe of the event that remained in full throttle until the sun slowly diminished over the cityscape horizon.
The “unknown” is what piqued my interest for the 6th Edition with a lineup consisting of many artists by way of unfamiliar backgrounds. Previous Editions have featured a roster of more well-known artists, which automatically generated set expectations. With being unsure of what to look forward to, it allowed room for an open mind to wander into realms of all shapes and sizes avoiding any letdowns formed by preconceived expectations.
The festival opened up with a more experimental and ambient flavor, not your typical dance floor material. The casual observers gracefully found a comfortable position sitting cross-legged on the floor, some even sprawled out completely side by side. Ex-Centris, a grandeur movie theatre, hosted two nights filled with exceptional visual display where artists like tINYLITTLEeLEMENTS and Biosphere abducted the mind forcing it to embark on a conceptual journey. Experimental clicks, moans, and rumbles filled the theatre creating a surreal adventure through the art of noise. As the week progressed forward, the sound moved right along with it. Four/four hit the floor, and no one remained seated at this point. Bass-driven sounds poured out of the speakers, each relentless in its own distinct way. The feel differentiated from one performer to the next, ranging from “in your face” bold to melodically enchanting and earthy-warm rhythms - satisfying varying cravings. The tempo was considerably picked up and dropped down through the course of the evening, which in turn seemed to disrupt the flow during transition between artists. This factor put mere stagnant points in the night, requiring a couple seconds to adjust to the change of pace. For the well-known artists, it was refreshing to hear the first beat drop and know instinctively who was about to perform. A recognizable rhythm was used to grasp the attention of each individual, to later carry them on forward through sounds never endured before. This completely hooked the minds of the crowd, keeping them addicted through the course of experience.
The MUTEK team worked their fingers to the bone once again to deliver a superior line-up of respectful artists each exhibiting distinct and unique qualities. Over 100 artists hand picked by the MUTEK team traveled from all parts of the world, eager to share their revolutionary sound. Consistent returns by fellow artists such as: Robert Henke and Lucien Luciano, are a shining example of the well-built relationship between MUTEK and its performers.
The level of enthusiasm and commitment was vastly demonstrated through the artist’s integral performances, who gave their utmost effort to achieve aural and visual satisfaction from each spectator - confidently striving to push the creative boundaries. Communication stood at the forefront, which instantly gave birth to the vital connection between the two entities forming a relationship bound by the senses. The artists allowed their sound to take on a new shape suiting the mold of the individuals presented before them, not missing a sound and never hesitating to sneak in a smile acknowledging the response from the crowd.
Each artist cooked up and delivered a dish to the five day schmorgisborg, and to each I’m providing my full-on commendation. Artists like Apparat, and Pan/Tone’s hip-shaking physique bent with the audience laid out in front of them. As their music progressed, more bodies merged towards the dance floor, intertwining. Their recognizable ability to read the crowd like a book was extraordinary, catering to every word in all chapters, not missing a single letter. They grabbed the audience by the nuts (for the lack of a better metaphor) and sonically pulled them in all directions. The rapport between Serafin and Luciano contributed to the intimate and welcoming vibe at Piknic, which mimicked the social elements of a family gathering. With a drink in one hand and a record in the other, they filled the air with ass-shaking techno so captivating it brought everyone to move to the same rhythm. Gallopierende Zuversicht bounced with each beat which demonstrated to each and every one of us how the element of fun should never be overlooked. Satisfying the appetites of the acquired taste, the highly eccentric performance from the artist known as Pomassl lured the attention of the ones around him, gazing in wonderment of his experimental sound controlled by obscure movements. An ambient sensation consumed the room as Robert Henke covertly sat in the middle of a crowd, as he calmly showcased a soul-quenching rhythm only he could create evoking a humbling rush over the body. Pheek vs. Off The Sky gave us a taste of how a duo should work together, whose stripped-down beats meshed flawlessly and naturally. A noble performance by Atom Heart (Senior Coconut and The Original Hamster) was an element of surprise, who laid down a short-notice acid-house set that redeemed the absence of Ricardo Villalobos, which melted away all ill thoughts replacing them only with Latin-influenced tones.
The emitted energy from each performance revealed the depth of the artist’s indulgence within the techno culture. Feeling music from the heart and viewing dancing visuals from the soul automatically reshaped a simple kick drum and a sparkle of light into an innovative experience. Of all the artists I witnessed, they each demonstrated a unique quality that should be respected knowing the amount of inherent effort that was devoted towards their production.
Individuals from all over the world flocked to Canada to spoil their senses by diving into a festival known for its deliverance. Each day opened a window to a new sensation - a vivid aura that was so apparent you could taste it. Without a doubt, the “party people” compose a huge piece of the pie that equates to a successful event. Personality and attitude is what can make or break the vibe.
To become immersed in an environment where the motives for attendance were relatively similar to my own raised a humbling sensation over me. As I gazed upon a man hidden in the shadows near the back of the room indulge in a wooden-tipped cigarette, to slowly shift my eyes to a woman dancing her ass off front row center; it became distinctively obvious we were indeed thinking the same thing. We were not there for an excuse to party to background music. Music, art, and technology were the focal points of this event. Attendees, whether sitting or standing, laying down or dancing; listened to each beat like it was the last, intrinsically becoming inspired to speak a language that has never been heard before. Their undivided attention illustrated the level of indulgence in each unique rhythm as their heads bobbed and bodies swayed to the jaw-dropping synths, earthy pads, and floor-rumbling bass lines. The crowd did not hesitate to dive deep into the artist cheering and applauding until hands turned red and throats became sore. Both the verbal and non-verbal communication between the crowed and the artist was unyielding, connecting the room together breaking the cliché of the pedestal performer and the celebrity obsessed fan. Technology burps were a minor concern because of the contented rapport that was created by each individual in the vicinity.
Free-spirited, open-minded and a thirst for ground-breaking creations is why I deem the 12,000 individuals who attended MUTEK to be commended for the success of the event. Without the inspired souls who are eager to support the artists and spread the novel sound, MUTEK wouldn’t be who they are today.
The MUTEK Team
Living up to the standards solidified from previous years, the MUTEK team was highly professional, efficient, and well-organized; sustaining a smooth flow, which in turn lead to the perfect turnout. Their hard work and dedication towards the festival since its birth, is noticeably apparent. They were available at all times in physical form or through other means of communication, which was provided. Each member was equipped with welcoming personalities, ensuring that each participant was enjoying the experience to its fullest potential. Questions and concerns were adhered to almost immediately upon request, and problems were dealt with effectively.
My hat goes off to the MUTEK team for “saving the day” when informed that Ricardo Villalobos missed his flight, which lead to the demise of the duo Sense Club, leaving Lucien Luciano all by his lonesome. The mere thought of breaking the news to all individuals without redeeming themselves, was not an option. The team held professional composure and successfully located another act which made up for the short-lived disappointment. Post festival reviews have indicated that Atom Heart’s performance was a pinnacle moment in this year’s festival, which is now known to ripple through MUTEK history. This was made possible because of their level of professionalism and commitment towards MUTEK and to all who support the event at hand.
The Final Verdict
Without a doubt, MUTEK will always be the festival of choice for an annual dose of music, art, and technology. The consistent output fueled by desire and motivation guarantees the deliverance of ground-breaking products year after year. MUTEK will always remain on top of my list for a “must attend” festival. If you did not have the chance to embark on the MUTEK 6th excursion, don’t miss the 7th Edition which I’m sure is going to turn more heads, move more bodies, and etch yet another permanent scar of satisfaction in our minds.
But enough of what I have to say! I leave you with a few words from fellow MUTEK 6th Edition artists and attendees.
Alter Ego Radio/O2 in the Basement
Winnipeg, MB (Canada)
My experience of MUTEK was a pretty good one. I think I could say it was one of the better editions since its beginning. I might be biased because I played and that was somehow, a dream come true to play with Jason there. It made the whole experience much fun. I think my best experience was "Le Placard" that brought a whole new refreshing view of the festival. It was experimental stuff, mostly but for musicians, it was also exciting to have the chance to play for people who really wanted to listen. In Montreal, people do talk a lot during shows so this was a way to do things in a different way.
My best moments were Bruno Pronsato, Mathew Jonson, Robert Henke's Thunder studies and Nego Mocambique. A Downside was Ricardo not attending (for Montreal, it was his 3rd time in a row) and a lack of beats in the first days.
Montreal, QB (Canada)
The entire MUTEK weekend was a unique and enjoyable experience. It was great to see a lot of experimental artists having a solid festival like MUTEK backing them and giving them a chance to show off to a crowd of people from all around the globe, and of course a party always breaks out wherever masses of people gather. MUTEK always seems to be a great intersection for a very diverse scene of artists and music lovers.
Presenting my ‘Direwires’ project for the first time was a great experience for myself, and I was very happy to have that opportunity to share this very personal project of mine with a very receptive crowd. It was great to connect with other like-minded artists and see what others were doing. My only complaint would be the dance-oriented music. Everyone played great sets, but it felt like something was missing. Most of the artists were great floor-shakers, but I would have liked to hear something new and fresh, and maybe more of a convergence of the experimental and the dance music and something a little darker. Great festival though, and it is obvious that the organizers worked their asses off for months to pull it all off.
Sarina, ONT (Canada)
Having this been my first MUTEK, I had kept an open mind from the very start. Much of the impressions walking into this were just that. So I was welcoming what could be done with sound in its most abstract form. Robert Henke’s (Monolake) venture into texture at Nocturne 2 immediately gave me the feeling this was to be an interesting week. The dark room filled with eager listeners was refreshing and although not my taste, sonically pleasing. The first half of MUTEK was obviously geared to relations in texture and the experimental. Also notable was Direwires that followed suit to this idea.Nocturne 3 slowly geared those exploring sound for what many came for. Minimal, Static groove, Techno, and everything in between. Apparat and Pan/Tone finishing this night let us know that the things are mixing delightfully.
Metropolis gave Luciano having to adapt to the situation that Ricardo Villalobos missed his flight and a technical problem. I commend him for pulling out a quick set and keeping his relaxed persona. This impressed me and actually gave me some inspiration.
Picnic the next day was amazing, Luciano with Serafin once again impressed me, and Stephen Beaupre gave me the goods as well. There is nothing like Sunshine, good people, and amazing music. By the time the Final sessions started I was overstimulated and kept myself excited by what the festival had given me. Pheek Vs Off The Sky and Melchior Productions sent me home with respect and inspiration. All in all this was an experience that expanded my ears and my thoughts on how sounds relate. Experimental and exploratory had been the themes, but it also gave us some classic talent we have grown to love.
Winnipeg, MB (Canada)
MUTEK Montreal 2005.
This year’s highlight for me for sure was seeing Winnipeg’s 3x3is9 at the Musee Dart Contemporaine playing within Sskotz Kolgens Askaa installation. His performance within their visual environment complimented each other perfectly. Second to that was Roberto Mendoza's performance on Saturday at the Musee Juste Pour Rire. His album coming out on Imeca and Alva Ruiz album coming out on Static records are two albums I am really looking forward to hearing from my Tijuanian brothers.
Toronto, ONT (Canada)
My first Mutek - Lights in the light.
Before going back to live on the old continent in the fall, and after my trip to the Chilean version a year and a half ago, I had to get a taste of the originator, the Montreal-version of MUTEK. The taste I still have in my mouth, a few weeks later, is sweet and sour. We'd decided to arrive Wednesday night not to miss an ounce of partying… And all we witnessed for the first two days was the aftermath of Detroit's Fuse-In: everybody was too tired to actually jump around. It seemed like the line-up for these first two days had been selected so that MUTEK could serve as the experimental chill out after party for Fuse-In, except there was one problem: some people, like us, hadn't gone to Detroit just before. So we sat there, a bit frustrated, waiting, waiting… As a consequence, I was even able to attend the morning discussion panels, which were actually very good! The first beats finally reached our impatient ears on Friday. What a relief! I won't go into which artists impressed or disappointed me with their performances, but I'll just say that the two categories were pretty evenly filled. I still don't understand some of the raving reviews I've read about some of them; people on drugs shouldn't write events reviews! Anyway, it ended for us with the picnic on Sunday afternoon, which will stay as the best moment of this edition, both musically speaking and vibe-wise. Overall, I had a great time, but more because it gave me the occasion of finally meeting and hanging out with tons of people I'd been corresponding with for a while, than for the satisfaction I got from the music and the parties. Next year, I will come back for sure, but I will go to Fuse-In before!
Cyhl / Fusiphorm
co-owner of Foundsound Records
New York, NY (USA)