Mutek kicked off on Wednesday evening and I began my voyage through this festival's offerings on Thursday evening at Nocturne 2 at SAT (Société des Art et Technologies) on St. Laurent. The four Nocturne events during Mutek are large-scale shows which highlight DJs from all over the world. All for one low price you are able to sample some of the best DJs of electronic music worldwide. Not bad, eh!?
Nocturne 2 happened at the very funky SAT space which really suits this type of event in that it is a large open industrial looking space. When I arrived around 11:30 the party was already going and the venue was about half full. Remember, this is Montreal, people and partying does not really hit its stride until around the stroke of midnight. The theme of the evening was dub-techno and dubstep music. If you are not a connoisseur then dub-techno fuses dub beats (two step) into a kind of minimalistic techno music.
European dub-techno was in the spotlight on this evening as an act from Berlin and two from London were on the bill. By the time I had arrived Shackleton from London had already performed. This performer/DJ burst out of the thriving London dubstep scene around 2004 and carved out a name for himself due to his unique mixing of African beats with industrial styled techno. This was Shackleton's Canadian debut.
Londoners Kode9 and the Spaceape were just starting when I got there. The crowd was pressed up against the stage and dancing about. Much of Kode9's music sounds like it would be right at home at the Montreal Reggae Festival as the Rasta-infused spoken word vocalizing is really heavy with its ska flavourings. Kode9 music has been labelled as 'dark', but on this night I did not see it. The ska stylings really brought about a sense of hope and a prodding to rebel against the status quo, which the crowd really fed off of. Much of the message of the music was to fight against what our governments are doing. Power to the people! That, my friends, is not dark! Feeling the crowd's love for the music and the performance the vocalist walked through the crowd on several occasions during the 60 minute set. Musically Kode9's stuff falls into the industrial category with its minimalistic and heavy sound. The bass and drum influence was obvious right away. To emphasize the love of the bass, it was turned up so loud that the cement floors at SAT were vibrating along to the beats. The visual group Spaceape provided the visuals for this set. They were constantly moving, blurry, black and white images that at times vaguely resembled a sonogram. It really challenged your ideas about perception and reality. These two talented groups have worked together since the release in 2004 of the album "Sing of the Dub/Stalker".
I only stayed for the beginning of the next set by the night's headliner of sorts, Rhythm and Sound featuring Paul St. Hilaire. Rhythm and Sound hail from Berlin, Germany and is comprised of producer extraordinaire Mauritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. Von Oswald has been one of the most important figures on the techno scene for the last 10 or so years. This was a rare opportunity in North America to see the group together with guest vocalist Paul St. Hilaire. St. Hilaire really lends the group the reggae flavour with his vocal style. As opposed to Kode9's vocalist who used spoken word, St. Hilaire also sings with that definite Jamaican accent. Every new song or change of beat brought about a cheer from the appreciative crowd.
By 12:30 SAT was pretty much packed and you had to go to the very back of the room to cool off from the heat emanating from around the stage. This was an evening that really showed the marriage between techno and reggae. The resulting music is great with strong messages to go the body shaking bass sounds. Makes me look forward to tonight's Nocturne 3 which takes place at Metropolis and features acts such as Matthew Dear's Big Hands, The Mole and Bubblyfish.