Photos by basic_sounds and Tim Saputo
This May, XLR8R contributor Bill Fewell and I were lucky enough to travel to Montreal to cover MUTEK, one of the most exciting electronic music festivals in North America. This year's line-up reflected a shift in the often straightforward minimal techno and experimental focus. Expertly curated and painstakingly detailed, MUTEK's 10th birthday party lasted four days and five nights and encompassed an an entire spectrum of forward-looking music.
Gas was the first thing I saw at the festival, and my favorite of all the events. Wolfgang Voigt's first-ever Canadian performance under his legendary, groundbreaking ambient alter-ego was truly special. Performing off in a corner while a two-story screen towered behind him, he took the audience on a terrifying and beautiful journey through the heart of the black forest. While the audio transitions from song to song were surprisingly stiff, the visuals provided enough mind-melt to distract.
Applepips CEO Appleblim spun a brilliant selection of 2-step dubstep with a few wonky and funky selections that got the crowd super-hyped for the rest of the night, which, in our opinion, was the most solid of all the Nocturne evening events.
XLR8R fave Deadbeat, back in his adopted hometown, also really delivered. Straddling the line between house, techno, dubstep, and funky, he served up a very bottom-heavy, dancefloor-friendly set that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Moderat played to a packed Metropolis, and managed to far surpass their recorded collaborative album with that night's intense live set. They ended with the Modeselektor classic, "Let Your Love Grow," with a sea of hands and lighters in the air.
Mala, the deeper half of Digital Mystikz spun a devastating dubstep set, ranging from depth-charge dubs to wobble-bass acrobatics. The way Mala strings together tracks is simply amazing, though hardly a surprise coming from one of the originators of dubstep. We didn't even mind hearing him reload Sponge Bob!
The next day found us exploring Montreal, where we were pleasantly surprised that you can buy a hot dog in pretty much any restaurant in the city.
Midwest ambient duo The Fun Years were fantastic, and so were their visuals, which lulled us into the happy kingdom of half-awake listening.
Berlin's Jahcoozi, a crowd favorite, brought a refreshing sense of spectacle to the stage.
The next day we met up with Poirier and Guillaume to shoot this episode of XLR8R TV. They showed us around town and brought us to the dopest chicken spot.
The first Piknic Electronik event was perfect. It was also the first day it didn't rain while we were in Montreal. We arrived just in time to catch the last half of Deep Space resident Brendon Moeller's set. He played a lot of tunes off his new collection, Jazz Junk Safari, and some top-shelf, deep, dubby techno that could only by followed by the one and only Thomas Fehlmann, who spun a flawless mix and even included a shuffle-house throwback moment. The German Techno mastermind was followed by great sets by Manchester's Trus' Me and home-town hero The Mole. Four thumbs up to MUTEK for programming a perfect techno-piknic experience. We couldn't imagine a better line-up for chilling out on a island park with Montreal's skyline sitting peacefully in the background.
Later, we returned to Monument National to catch Mille Plateaux veterans SND's set, which we thought was brilliant, but seemed to bum out a few people in the crowd. Fractured garage beats, SND's trademark clean chord stabs, and sub-bass and noise were the orders of the night. Loved every minute of it.
Nocturne 4, a joint venture with Resident Advisor, offered a whole lot of great techno, but, to be honest, we don't really remember too much from that night other than DoP 's live show being every bit as fun as they are known for. Maybe it's because we had been drinking Guru and vodka all day. But we do remember Carl Craig playing a smokin' three-hour set, which was chock-full of Detroit classics, and kept the packed house moving (and screaming) until dawn.
The next day we finally ate Montreal's famous and delicous smoked meat sandwich with black cherry soda. Then we braved the icy winds and rain to witness the much-anticipated return of K-hole house pioneer with Perlon boss Zip spinning back to back on the island for the second and last installment of the Piknic Electronik. It was a excellent way to spend a rainy afternoon, getting smashed and dancing to a killer Villalobos set. Maybe he'll hit the U.S. soon? (Thank god Obama won, right?)