Despite Montreal’s inevitable May rains, the weekend portion of MUTEK ’08 couldn’t be stopped–even if it did force the outdoor Piknic Electronik’s events back to the SAT on Saturday afternoon. L.A.’s newly crowned glitch-bass master Flying Lotus helped to recreate some serious nighttime vibes (as did the dark confines of the club) before Kode9 and The Space Ape took the stage for their first of two performances that day. They were followed by the intensely heavy Canadian debut of Dutch dubstepper Martyn, as folks mingled near the back, bemoaning the fact that the rain had almost cleared by the time the event started.
Later that evening, Metropolis hosted another seemingly sold-out affair for MUTEK’s Nocturne finale. Parisian DJ Chloé rocked her first time on Canadian decks, preceding local hero Mossa, who swung the crowd up, down, left, and right with his tweaked-out techno and house, augmented at the end with a percussionist on electronic drums. In the theater’s Savoy Room, Matt “Radio Slave” Edwards and Joel Martin premiered their Quiet Village project, which saw the pair tucked away at the back of the auditorium while they controlled projected visuals to accompany their Balearic funk and easy-listening sounds.
A festival highlight for many was the Axel Wilner’s North American premier of The Field as a live band, which found him behind a massive control desk as a drummer and guitarist played alongside what sounded like on-the-fly remixes of From Here We Go Sublime. Meanwhile, back across the hall, Kode9 and The Space Ape performed their Bass Fiction live PA, which saw a line wrapped up and down the main staircase, and gave attendees the tough choice of having to pick between two stellar acts at the same time. (With the beats coalescing from all angles, one can completely understand what beatboxer extraordinaire Michael Winslow is talking about in this clip that Matt Edwards hipped us to the next morning; check it at around the 3:30 point.)
Following what many say was the surprise sleeper set of the festival by Danton Eeprom, Edwards, whose records were lost in transit, still managed to wow the crowd with a few hours’ worth of burned CDRs, playing on the main stage under this Radio Slave guise. DJ Olive and ex-Montrealer Deadbeat finished out the Savoy Room’s scheduled program before Kode9 made an impromptu third appearance, taking folks well into the morning hours.
But no MUTEK is complete without at least the final Sunday’s Piknic Electronik, held on Ile-Ste. Helene’s Parc Jean-Drapeau. With the park’s absolutely perfect setting for any electronic music festival–held under an Alexander Calder stabile, with picturesque views of Montreal in the background–not even the rain could keep MUTEK’s die-hards from partying all day long to minimal techno and house stompers by Onur Özer, Ernesto Ferreyra, and Germany’s Mathias Kaden. But the day’s highlight was undoubtedly a live appearance by Parisian pranksters Noze, who brought their brand of Tom Waits-meets-Eastern Europe tech while swigging on full bottles of vodka and demanding that the crowd “be gay” and make out with each other. Hey, what can we say? It’s a romantic place, and Montreal’s nothing if not amorous.
Check XLR8R TV in the coming weeks to see all of XLR8R’s MUTEK adventures.