The big night of Mutek – Saturday is always the big night – was not one that disappointed. I took in both Experience 4, the free outdoor portion held on the Esplanade of Place des Arts, and Metropolis 2 at MTelus.
It was a beautiful night to listen and dance to some music outdoors in that it was warm, but not too humid. When I arrived just after 10 p.m. the Esplanade was packed. Everyone was either dancing or completely focused on what was happening on the small stage. There was Norwegian producer/DJ Charlotte Bendiks. She presented us the most delightful variety of house music of the Chicago variety. It is rather minimalist and tight in method which is not surprising coming from someone who grew up in a remote Arctic village. Nothing wasted everything gained. As is the music she creates.
She fell in love with electronic music at a young age. DJing since her early twenties, she has grown to be a highly sought after one who got in on the ground floor of the Insomnia Festival in Norway and then co-founding underground electronic event Moist in Cologne. Moist was so dubbed as such because of its reputation of getting very sweaty. Listening to Bendiks’ 90 minute set at Experience 4 you can totally picture why.
Comprised of seductive drum beats, disco grooves and elements of Latin and African sounds you get a picture of what she is all about. As such, the dance floor was humming with all the movement and energy of the crowd. Most were swaying or full on dancing. Precious few were not affected by the beats Bendiks created. You could totally picture ravers loving her and the atmosphere she creates.
It was over too soon and the still buzzing crowd filled out onto the street. Next stop for me was MTelus for Metropolis 2. Metropolis is the big indoor ticketed show at Mutek each year. The pearl in the jewelry shop. On this evening it was like a Nuit Blanche version of Metropolis as it only began at 11 p.m. and went on to the wee hours of the morning (6 a.m.). The line-up consisted of five acts in the main room – Highbloom & Remillard, Chloe, DJ Python, Kenny Larkin, and Honey Dijon. They were complimented by visual artists Bun Bun, Diagraf and Boycott. In the smaller room called the Savoy (which I did not go into) the DJ roster, which was exclusively female, included CMD, Klara Lewis, Jaclyn Kendall, and Debit.
The main room was very American heavy with DJ Python, Kenny Larkin and Honey Dijon all hailing from the country to the south of us. That being said I only stayed for the first two acts and they were Canadian and French. First up was a very interesting duo, Highbloom and Remillard. Made up of DJ/producer Jean-Pierre Remillard, who also performs under the name Pheek, and saxophonist Bryan Highbloom. They are a perfect example of what happens in Montreal. The fusion of old and new, English with French and of different styles. Remillard hails from the local electronic music world since the late 90s whereas Highbloom was the music therapist at the Jewish General hospital as well as playing in a jazz band called Wendajam. At first glance you don’t think that they would work together and yet they do. Again, very Montreal.
The result is a very atmospheric sound resulting from Remillard’s experimental techno and Highbloom’s haunting jazz sax. It most certainly is not music that you dance to. That is not the object of it. It is music that invades your body and brain. Asking much of the listening. Sounding very much like the soundtrack to a morose film. It reaches out to connect with you. The sparse crowd that was there was totally focused on what was going on. Hanging on every note. Some were even absorbing it with their eyes closed. No one was talking everyone was just listening. Rapt by every tweak and turn Remillard was making on his modular rig.
Their set was a short hour long, but they made the most of those 60 minutes. Next up was Chloe. Fresh off her outdoor set the night before at Experience 3, Chloe is from Paris and has a sound which is a mixture of house and techno. It is cool, edgy and melodic.
It has been a decade in between Chloe’s appearances at Mutek, but she is exactly what this festival is all about. Dubbed the Parisian Queen of Minimalism, she is able to create plenty with a couple of pieces of equipment. Using them and her heavily altered voice, she began what was to be a long evening of dancing.
The 42-year-old had everyone moving seemingly in a world of their own…which she had sonically created. A veteran of over 20 years on the electronic music scene, the woman knows how to seemingly be doing very little up on stage and yet producing plenty. While one piece melted into the next each had its own texture and feelings to it. An hour long set which at the same time was abstract and yet totally techno.
It was a set she calls Endless Revisions. Every note seems perfect and every beat well placed. Like a piece of work that someone has worked on for endless hours yet still maintains its freshness. A unique talent.