Nocturnes have always been the big showcases for the people at Mutek. They are their biggest shows with the highest profile DJs from the electronic music genre. This is the 10th anniversary edition of Mutek, so you had to know they'd make a big splash.
On Saturday night Metropolis was the location of Nocturne 4. The Nocturne on the Saturday night is always the brightest gemstone in the jewel we call Mutek. On this evening the theme or title given was Night Ventures. The programmers at Mutek were to bring us the music of the night and not the Phantom of the Opera type. They had managed to get one of the biggest artists in the electronic music world, Carl Craig, over the last 20 years to perform on their big night. On this night there were to be several other acts to be excited about before Carl Craig was to take the stage for his 3 hour set.
When I arrived at midnight I had arrived just in time to catch the end of dOP's set. This French act in their North American premiere was to bring their own brand of cabaret house to Mutek. Inspired by their countrymen Nôze (previous Mutek performers), dOP (Clement Zemtsov, Damien van de Sande and Lelli) are an interesting mix. Full of energy and known for their onstage antics, dOP have already made quite a name for themselves in Europe. Zemstov is the heart of the band – meaning he and his computer provide the beats that drive the electronic music produced by this trio. Van de Sande provides the live instrumentation, whether keyboards or horns and Lelli is the song craftsman. They each compliment one another and combine their talents to work as one.
The beats were heavy and Lelli's tribal influenced vocals really got the crowd going. Unfortunately their time onstage went too quickly and in the blink of an eye their time was up. Here's to hoping that these guys can be back for their own evening in the future.
Next up was an example of a musical global partnership. Mathew Jonson and Dandy Jack are from Canada (Victoria, to be exact) and Chile respectively, but have come together to create beautiful music. Mathew Jonson is a big name on the Canadian scene who has been releasing records since 2001. Dandy Jack is Martin Schopf, a native of Chile who now lives in Geneva. He is the organizer of the Chilean Mutek, so he really understands the whole Mutek philosophy.
The two veterans were now using Nocturne 4 as their official coming out party. They have been working together quietly for a few years, but had kept it mostly under wraps. Individually they are both brilliant electronic DJs, so fans could only salivate at the idea of theme working together and what they would create.
They say that music is the universal language and these two men were going a long way to prove that. Jonson has a very unique sound that is all his own. He uses his computer, outboard equipment and old analogues; he is very hands on. His style is a mix of techno, jazz, house, and drum 'n bass. Schopf has always been interested in linking electronic music with Latin rhythms. The sound they create together is smooth and seemingly improvisational. They are flying by the seat of their pants and it is marvellous.
Next up was Berlin's tobias. He is Tobias Freund, a veteran of the German electronic scene. Making music since the late 1980s, Freund has made music under many aliases. Interestingly, he has even recorded with one of the previous performers, Dandy Jack. His latest incarnation is tobias. I was quite interested in seeing this performer as his forays into North America have been minimal.
tobias. as a performer is all about minimalism. He is heavy on the basslines, so much so that at times while listening to his set you might have felt your teeth rattling. He meshes so many sounds and makes them sound alive. His music is a living, breathing thing. During the just over an hour that he was on stage he kept the audience moving to his beats.
The artist we had all been waiting for took the stage after 3:00 a.m. and the party really began. For 20 years Carl Craig has been one of the premiere DJs in electronic music. Hailing from Detroit, Craig is part of the second generation of techno. He has been nominated for a Grammy and after listening to him for a mere few minutes you could hear why.
Craig's brand of techno music embraces influences from the jazz and soul. It is cool and smooth. But incredibly danceable. That was easily judged by the instantaneous reaction from the crowd; they all began to move as one as soon as Craig's set began.
Getting his hands dirty behind his equipment is what Craig is all about. He moves seamlessly from techno to drum 'n bass and back. He offered up a buffet of sounds which the crowd fed on ravenously.
Due to exhaustion from fighting a nagging cold I did not stay for the entirety of Carl Craig's set, which was scheduled to go on until 6:00 a.m., but rest assured that there were many electronic music fans who did.