Mutek 2011 presents Montreal, North American and worldwide premieres in its five-day programming of high-end electronic music
Never content to provide the predictable, Montreal’s (the world’s?) pre-eminent electronic music festival offers plenty of surprises for its 12th edition. In fact, easily recognizable names this year are few and far between, replaced by an armada of rising talents and seasoned underground veterans. Stock up on energy drinks, because this party’s going to last for five days straight.
June 1 kicks off with a rush: U.K. beatmaker Bowly will bewilder unsuspecting transit-goers at sure-to-be-jam-packed Berri-UQAM metro. Admission is free and the music kicks into gear during high tide at 4:30 p.m. Look for more of the same at the busy station on June 2 with The Gulf Stream and June 3 with Mateo Murphy.
The A/Visions series at Salle Pierre-Mercure launches on day one with the cannily titled showcase The Industrial Evolution. First up, Bristol’s Emptyset drop dubstep bass under eerie squeals, which – according to one YouTube commenter – is “proper mindrape.” Finland’s Mika Vainio (formerly of Pan Sonic) is no less head-drilling, and will mark his inaugural Mutek. Last, as Purform, Elektra Festival honcho Alain Thibault teams with visual artist Yan Breuleux for the multi-screen spectacle White Box.
As if that weren’t enough, June 1′s final throw-down at Metropolis features no less than Middle Eastern avant-gardist Badawi, the beautifully sunny compositions of Britain’s Gold Panda, and Amon Tobin’s new album Isam, presented in a sensory-overloading stage show. It’ll also be his first-ever live appearance, believe it or not.
A/Visions continues on day two with one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets, as Comaduster presents Scrape, a dark excursion into ambient and watery techno. He’s joined by Seth Horvitz (a.k.a. Sutekh), with a performance revolving around automated piano, followed by the inspired team-up of Mexican producer Murcof with Simon Geilfus of “visual label” AntiVJ for an electro-classical hybrid à la Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald’s Recomposed.
Back to Metropolis, the Modeselektion party from German duo Modeselektor is likely to follow up last year’s DJ set from Mouse on Mars as a one of the fest’s biggest bangers. They’ll be joined on the decks by Jacques Green, Anstam, Siriusmo and New York’s answer to U.K. garage, FaltyDL. Running simultaneously, the Savoy Room brings together Canada’s rising stars of techno: Arthur Oskan, Billy Dalessandro, Groj and Mateo Murphy.
The most eclectic bill this year (and possibly the highlight) is the Psychonautic Surfers showcase at SAT. Montreal’s dreamy drone duo Sundrips set it off, before Arp continues the bliss trip into cosmic territory. Organ Mood weld analog toys to electronic, while U.K. duo Hype Williams hypnotize with blurry memories of pop nostalgia. Finally, L.A.’s Sun Araw will stop time with a hazy trip through dub, psychedelia and glorious guitar splatter.
A/Visions 3 should excite basement-dwelling DIY types with Fab Gadgets at SAT. Local collective Women With Kitchen Appliances is exactly what its name suggests, while the 1-Bit Symphony from Tristan Perich strips down to a single microchip. Britain’s Sculptures bring their own take on Christian Marclay-style turntablism with self-made “zoetropic” vinyl platters spun, filmed and manipulated.
One of the most anticipated acts this year is Windsor, Ontario’s Richie Hawtin (a.k.a. Plastikman) with a concert originally slated for 2004. The minimal techno titan is joined by dub lovers Deepchord from Detroit, plus the heavy-hitting beats of Adam X and his Traversable Wormhole. Once again, the Savoy Room presents a second option with the bass blasts of Tomas Jirku, Komodo, Skinnybones and XI.
If Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau is your destination, June 4 and 5 pack plenty of fun. Saturday’s showcase, It Came From Outer Space, brings a stellar program of The Gulf Stream, Border Community/Ninja Tune’s Luke Abbot, British upstart Floating Points, and finally Terry Lee Brown Jr. shutting it down with reworked Chicago house. Sunday is a blank slate at this point, with the inaugural Curator’s Choice event inviting guests from the Mutek lineup for surprise sets.
Pop quiz: What do Berlin, Buenos Aires and Montreal have in common? A: They’re all UNESCO Cities of Design, plus the homes of the artists for the Design_Mix at SAT. Argentina is represented by Sol Del Rio and Chancha Via Circuito, Germany brings Mutek favourite Pole, and local boy Deadbeat teams with video artist Lillevan.
Nocturne 4 travels Beyond the Autobahn with big-time collabs and genre bends at Metropolis. Stephen Beaupré joins the Banjo Consorsium, followed by jazzy groovers Rocketnumbernine and special guest Four Tet. Austrian trio Elektro Guzzi flex live muscles, and headliner James Holden bobs techno heads all night.
The final soirée is Sunday at SAT with international spins on house music. Akufen (a.k.a. Horror Inc.) starts the night, and Japan’s Radiq arrives on North American shores for the first time. B.C.’s Danuel Tate hotboxes the room, before Berliners Wareika smoke it out.