Nocturne 3 @ Mutek

On my second night at Mutek I decided to arrive a little earlier so I could catch more music, so I arrived at Nocturne 3 at Metropolis around 10:15. As typical of Montreal the place was fairly empty with only about 50 people in the large club. No worries as I knew the crowd would slowly come in. It was neat to go to a venue and be able to go right up to the stage unimpeded and have the room be cool. I knew that would change as the night went on.

The venue itself was decked out in its finest with large vertical strings of lights on both sides and at the back of the dance floor. Not only did the lights light (go figure!) and change colours, but they also had images on them throughout the evening. It was really cool! There was also the usual large screen at the back of the stage which was filled with different images working in time with the music being played. Throughout the evening the screen depicted images of animals (monkeys, elephants, cheetahs), naked men and skeletons walking, road signs, flowers/plants blooming, and warning labels. On to the music as that is the important part of the night…

The theme of this evening was band projects/music in that most of the performances would be of the electronic music variety, but would feature live instrumentation. It is a more organic type of electronic music in that not all sounds/beats created would emanate from computers/turntables. On this evening some of the better known producers of electronic music will feature their newest projects which feature bands.

The American/Chilean male/female DJ duo of Detalles was onstage when I arrived. Andres Bucci is from Santiago and Kate Simko, a classically trained pianist, is from Chicago and they got together when Kate was studying in Santiago. Since the release of their first album in 2003 they have been 'exploring' electronics together. The few dancers that were on the dance floor really seemed to appreciate this duo's ability to work off each other and to fuse their talents into one sound. Detalles is an example of the wonder of electronic music. How these seemingly simple, repetitive noises over bass and drum beats will cause a crowd of people to dance. During their 60 minute set the crowd grew and the dancers who had plenty of space in the beginning began to become more constricted in their available square footage.

Random thought: After observing these two hunched over their laptops with glowing apples, I began to realize that Apple is the laptop of choice for most DJs.

Next up was well-known Swiss producer Kalabrese and his Rumpelorchestra (I read that rumple means 'rumbling' in Swiss…). This trio had to actually do a sound check before they began. I only point this out because it is extremely rare at an electronic music show. It was the North American debut for Kalabrese (Sascha Winkler) performing with a keyboardist/vocalist/DJ and a trombone player. Now, trombone may seem like an extremely weird choice of instrument for this type of music, but I have to say that it came off as a brilliant choice. The variety of sounds it added to the music really gave the music a totally funky vibe and the crowd definitely got into it whenever the trombone was featured. Kalabrese did most of the vocals and also played drums. The sound created was a mix of funk, techno, house, and disco. It was interesting to say the least. The band was a little out there and seemingly slightly obsessed with poultry. Two of the songs they played were entitled "Chicken Fried Rice" and "Chicken Farm". They also played such tunes as "Deep" and "Body Type" to show that they could be flexible. Their set was more like a traditional concert as there were definite ends to songs and the crowd applauded each song performed.

The last act I saw was Matthew Dear's Big Hands. Now American Matthew Dear is one of the best known electronic producers in North America, so this was a big performer for Mutek to nab. Recording albums since 2003, Matthew is a bonafide superstar of the genre and is now trying out recording/performing with a live band alongside his trusty computer. He has a new album out called "Asa Breed" and it is another example of this talent pushing himself to branch out in new directions. The sound he creates with the band (Mark Maynard on drums and John Gaviglio on bass) is a pop tinged electronic music. It is definitely more accessible than your average electronic sound and definitely full of body shaking beats. Dear's deep baritone and the sounds he used reminded me of early Depeche Mode recordings. Lyrically and soundwise much of the music is deep, dark and moody and I don't mean that in a bad way. The crowd, which had packed the dancefloor by this point, was really into the music created.

Tonight is the final Nocturne (Nocturne 4) and starts around 9 p.m. at Metropolis. With such exciting performers as Michael Mayer, Pheek and Gui Boratto make sure you don't miss out!

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