They say that variety is the spice of life and the organizers of Mutek really take that saying to heart. Despite the fact that Mutek is a festival that shines the light on electronic music and digital art they do not limit themselves in any way. They provide a performance space for some of the most innovative artists in the music, sound and audio visual arenas. Since its inaugural year in 2000, Mutek for the past 11 years has been able to maintain itself on the cutting edge while at the same time appealing to the masses.
This year was no different in that the diversity was astounding. In no way do the organizers/programmers pigeonhole themselves when it comes to bringing in performers. They are aware of the fact that the two focal mediums are ones that are in constant evolution and they have learned to change right along with them. There were two newish tweaks in the program this year that illustrate that willingness to grow perfectly.
This was the second year that Mutek had an outdoor free performance. Taking advantage of Montreal's newest outdoor venue – Place de Festivals (in the Place des Arts area) – they brought in the crowd pleaser that is Senor Coconut & his Orchestra. Despite the inclement weather fans of a good time packed into the centrally located outdoor venue. Fusing electronic sounds and Latin beats, Senor Coconut and his musicians put their own twist on Latin music as well as performing covers of well-known songs.
A really cool new innovation was Bloc Jam, the brainchild of two Canadians, Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos. Essentially on the Thursday evening at dusk the two women set themselves up at the President-Kennedy Pavilion of UQAM and encouraged passersby to use their cell phones to create improvised music. Accompanying the music were a series of interactive projections connected to the cell phone symphony that were shot up onto the wall of the science pavilion. That means the projections and the music created never repeats itself changing depending on the people taking part in it.
Also out on the streets of Montreal was an art installation by Germany's Philipp Geist. Once again using the new Place des Festivals, Geist's installation had as its theme time and space which he presented by projecting light into fog.
These new things were presented alongside the tried and true events like the A/Visions, Nocturnes and outdoor Piknics. Due to the rainy weather Piknic 2 on Sunday had to be moved indoors to Metropolis, but it all turned out well. Some of the musical highlights included Senor Coconut & his Orchestra, Ikonika at Nocturne 3, King Midas Sound at Nocturne 3, The Mole at Funambus, and Matias Aguayo Band at Nocturne 1.
Today everything is about numbers and Mutek had plenty of numbers. There were 150 local and international acts that performed over the 5 days of the festival. Among those 150 performers 6 were world premieres, 10 North American premieres and 16 Canadian premieres. We got the first look at many new acts or shows. The fact that the artists come from all over the world has a big effect on the interaction between performer and audience. Montrealers are blessed with opportunity to see what people in the United States, Chili, the UK, and Sweden (amongst other countries) are up to in regards to electronic music and digital arts. Impressive numbers and impressive quality at this year's Mutek!