The 7th annual Mutek Festival of music, sound and new technologies is showing that it is no longer one just for ravers or the like; it has become an extremely popular event attracting artists and attendees from the world wide. If you wanted to attend Nocturne 3 which happened Friday night at the Darling Foundery in the Old Montreal area you would have had to get there early as the event was sold out by the time I arrived at around 10:45. (Congrats Mutek organizers!) Now some of you might think that this is not impressive, but it is as the doors only opened at 9 pm and 10:45 is definitely early when it comes to electronic music crowds and Montrealers looking to go out on the town on a Friday night. One thing that I really like about the Mutek Festival is that it is really interested in bringing the type of events/artists/music that the public wants. In the two years that I have attended the festival there are always people from Mutek outside the venues armed with surveys that they want you to fill out answering questions about what you liked and did not like at Mutek. This is how you build a loyal following and increase your audiences year after year.
When I entered the venue, which is a very cool one with its cement floors and exposed brick walls and I am hoping that it will be used more in the future for other Montreal events, it was already half to three-quarters full and there was also a large enough crowd (probably the smokers due to the new Quebec smoking laws) outside on the street. Darling Foundery is a long and narrow venue and the DJs were on a stage placed in the front. Suspended over the crowd were three sets of video screens which were filled with visual representations of the music all evening. The theme of Nocturne 3 was minimalism. All the artists performing that evening prefer to remain low key while they allow their music and sounds to take the forefront. They are all proponents of exploring the link between mood and texture within their musical creations. What really attracts me to this type of music is its fluidity and originality, which was definitely showcased on this evening. The sounds of all the DJs were smooth and not jarring, while still feeling completely improvised. Each time you attend one of these events you are hearing music that is being created on the spot and is different each and every time. You are not at a concert watching Elton John play "Bennie and the Jets" for the 5,000th time in his career.
The first DJ that was onstage when I arrived was Stephane Beaupré of Montreal. This long-haired guy really had the crowd into what he was creating up there on stage. Stephane has been a DJ for over 10 years and has gained quite a following in our town. The sound he creates on his laptops includes a mix of house, funk, techno, and crazy beats. His set alternated between pretty laid back rhythms to frenetic high energy music which the crowd cheered and raised their hands to in salute. He is in the process of releasing his first solo album entitled "Foe Destroyer" and I recommend fans of house/techno music to check it out. By the time his 1 hour set was over he had completely won over the crowd, so much so that if they hadn't have been already standing he would have been rewarded with a standing ovation. The next artist onstage was Alex Under from Spain. This was his North American debut and he already has an impressive reputation in the clubs of Europe. His music is a demonstration of contrasts but he does so with such fluidity you barely feel him change the sound from pure techno to house. The music he creates definitely puts you under his spell in a type of trance. His set was pure escapism for the hordes of dancing fools in the crowd that moved their bodies to his creations. The final artist I saw was Danish act Guido Schneider, who was also making his North American debut. Schneider has been in the business for around 15 years and started off as a producer with his own label. He is now making music which is another example of a minimalist sound. Using more traditional electronic dance sounds, Schneider creates a sound which is full of melodies and rhythm. He is touring the world promoting his new album, "Focus On: Guido Schneider".
By the time I left around 1:30 the crowd had thinned a little, which made the aforementioned dancing fools ecstatic with their newfound amount of space, but there was still several hundred in attendance enjoying an evening of fresh and original music. The night was such fun that I cannot wait until tomorrow night when I attend the big show, Nocturne 4 at Metropolis. See you there!