MUTEK 2012 Wrap-Up

Towards the beginning of Mutek ever year there’s a handful of names that garner the big buzz. This year, Nicolas Jaar and A Guy Named Gerald were on the tips of everyone’s lips. I have to admit, I was a bit confused to see Jaar headlining Friday night. His music is well produced and certainly solid all around, however it’s not what I would call Métropolis caliber dance floor music. Although the room was packed Friday night, I’m not sure who those people were. I don’t think they were mainly Mutek festival pass holders. They were a younger, slightly more emo looking crowd.  After a quick survey I confirmed I was not alone in wondering why we were listening to a band that sounded like it belonged at Bonaroo. Oh well, whoever they were, they seemed to like it.

In the world of sound and noise art, Tim Hecker & Stephen O’Malley were the “Must See” of the A/ Visions series. Truth be told as I looked around the beautifully lit, filled to capacity Eglise St.James, I had two thoughts – 1. I wondered when the last time this church was so full and 2. It’s almost worrisome to have such a high quantity of quality talent in one room. From Monolake and Robin Fox (as discussed in an earlier article) to Alex Smoke and who I’m almost 100% is one of the original members of Kraftwerk,… I could go on and on. Basically, over 50% of the artists who performed at Mutek were at the Tim Hecker show. Or, at least they were when it started. By the end of the show, the pews were close to 50% empty. Although the Mutek organizers were on hand and ready with boxes of ear plugs, the overall sentiment was that it was just too loud, overpowered by O’Malley on guitar. An absolute shame. About 20 decibels lower and I think they would have hit their mark.

Saturday night finally featured the 350 degree dome at SAT and those who caught the music by Clark from the UK were the subject of envy for the rest of the festival.  The night started off quite contemporary with music by Canadian natives Greenspan, Sealey and Lanza followed by American artist Keith Fullerton Whitman. By the time Solvent came on to perform the room was ready to get a groove on and he set the vibe just right for Clark who absolutely massacred the small dome filled dance floor.

Back over at Métropolis, the crowd overall was pleased with the music by a Guy Called Gerald who took many by surprise by going on earlier than expected. He was followed by my personal favorite set of the festival, a (literal) face-off between Minilogue vs. Mathew Jonson.  They’re music was traditionally Montreal style and if I have one complaint about the festival this year it’s that it was lacking in what we do best: playful loops accompanied by lots of timber, punctuated by bleeps and bloops in all the right places.

In keeping with tradition, the weekend was a rainy one but this year fortunately activities stayed close to home base and thus were easily moved indoors to SAT. Sunday was an overall iffy day in the weather department which likely kept the flocks from coming out to the traditionally epic Piknic event. Which, in all honestly made it a great experience for the dedicated Piknickers. Groans about the event becoming too popular and thus too crowded have overshadowed my usual crew’s summer excitement. The dance floor had just the right balance of not too few or too many, the semi-clouded sky and chilly wind was ideal for an all-out ongoing dance party. Nicolas Jaar was put into the line-up at the last minute and I’ve never heard a more off the mark DJ at Piknic. I wondered if no one had told him that in Montreal we like to dance at our Piknics. I over heard someone say, “I’m just about over Jaar’s stupidities while on stage” to which I internally agreed. Once he was off the stage things got back on track and a dance floor started to emerge. All this while the second stage enjoyed a friendlier fun vibe from start to end, fueled by Canadian natives Mathew Jonson (and member of Cobblestone Jazz) and The Mole, (who now calls Berlin home).

Closing night took a turn away from banging beats and instead offered a soulful house set by Public Lover and then closed the festival with some funky love by Dave Aju on two turn tables and a microphone. The time was 3am and no encore was called as everyone who stuck through the end of the festival was well satiated after five solid days of nothing but great music. Here’s looking forward to 2013!

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