This year, XLR8R decided to tackle Montreal a little differently. Rather than just report back on the greatness of MUTEK's eighth installment, we chose to poke around the city’s sound-specific hot spots, too. Here’s what we saw, starting with number one.
Elektra, Jazz Fest, Pop Montreal… You’d be hard pressed to find a weekend in Montreal without some type of music or arts event going on. (Hell, even DJ Assault was playing the Just For Laughs venue. Hilarious, huh?) In its eighth consecutive year, MUTEK has become the crème de la crème of digital arts festivals in North America, and over the course of five days in May/June proved itself again with stellar performances from the likes of Kalabrese, Bubblyfish, Gui Boratto, Pantha Du Prince, Matthew Dear, and tons of other experimenters from all manner of styles. Holding court at Metropolis, Hotel Godin, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Ex-Centris, and SAT, Mutek offers not only a taste of tons of different music, but a damn good tour around Montreal’s finest venues as well.
Just for Laughs' marquee
The Piknic epitomizes the laid-back vibe of Montreal, especially on MUTEK weekend when techno and house’s heaviest hitters bring their stuff to Île Ste-Hélène’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, where they drop bass under a sun-drenched Alexander Calder stabile. Fortunately for Montrealers, it happens nearly every weekend in the summer. For our visit, Sutekh and Wighnomy Brothers rocked the place like no other.
Ambivalent and Pheek
Partiers at Piknic Électronik
SAT and SAT [Galerie]
Not only the venue for some of MUTEK's hottest events, including this year’s dub throwdown with Kode9, The Spaceape, Shackleton, Rhythm & Sound, and Paul St. Hilaire, The Society for Arts and Technology’s new space also houses a gallery, where multimedia artists host their works. This September, check out curator tobias c. van Veen’s collection of audio works from the Upgrade International network featuring hellothisisalex, Alexis O’Hara, onetoofreefor, and more. (Check out tobias c. van Veen's MUTEK video clips below.)
SAT: Society for Arts and Technology
The “sonic inhabitation” of Silo No. 5 (an abandoned grain silo in an OId Montreal industrial park), the Silophone was created by multimedia artists [The User] in 1999 as a way of transforming the landmark by combining sound, architecture, and communication technology–and picking up one magnificently long echo tail. Today, anyone can send and reverberate messages through the Silophone via telephone, internet, or a mic-and-speaker-based concrete structure on the waterfront.
Silophone's mic-and-speaker structure in Old Montreal
The Silophone echo chamber, Silo #5
If you see these giant green Murmure ears around town, call the phone number on the sign and catch weird tales and encounters from the sites’ past inhabitants, neighbors, and visitors. This one, at St-Laurent Blvd. and Ste-Catherine St., tells the story of life on one of the city's most interesting intersections. Other spots include the SAT and Hotel Godin, and all the stories (along with a site map) are archived on the web.
A Murmure Ear
It doesn’t look like much from the outside (or the inside), but the Bar Salon Midway, right next to the SAT, is a karaoke dive with an unwitting twist. If you can catch the place on an off night (ie. when no one is singing “Mustang Sally”), have your friend sit beneath one of the recessed domes in the ceiling and talk back and forth normally; it’ll sound like you’re whispering in each other’s ears. Kinda freaky when you hit the sweet spot. Similar sound domes can be found in the Square-Victoria Metro station but they have a bigger, echoing effect.
Bar Salon Midway
Montreal is huge into self-guided audio tours, and they’re practically all government sponsored to some degree. Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable, the artist group known as ATSA, creates urban interventions–via podcasts and signs posted at sites–that examine the ways in which neighborhoods’ landscapes change over the years. Their latest FRAG (for “cultural fragment”) runs through “The Main” along St-Laurent Blvd between Mont-Royal and Sherbrooke Streets.
A FRAG near the SAT
More MUTEK Awesomeness
Writer, artist, filmmaker, and friend to XLR8R, Tobias c. Van Veen was seen just about everywhere in Montreal with camera in hand, capturing some excellent festival footage and interviews. Find him and his work at Quadrant Crossing.