Culture & Conversation

To each their own MUTEK

There's never been a better time to experience your first MUTEK

There’s never been a better time to experience your first MUTEK

For MUTEK’s fourteenth edition, the festival promoters selected the nudge-and-wink slogan “You never forget your first time.” It’s not without good reason. For those who until now have kept a timid distance from this trailblazing festival of digital creativity – maybe not so sure if electronic music was “their thing,” or maybe not enough for a $40 splurge – then keep on reading, dear friend, because MUTEK is thinking of you. 

As always, the heart of the programming is in the nightly lineups known as the Nocturnes – the ones with the heftiest price tags, but also the greatest array of potential discoveries. For the cost of a single ticket, you’ll have your run of three venues all at a hop and a skip away from each other in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles at the corner of Ste-Catherine street and St-Laurent. Bouncing between them is a huge part of the fun, and with short-and-sweet sets that average an hour in length, you’ll never have a chance to get bored.

From 10 or 10:30pm until 3am – or 6am if you go on Saturday night (for the same price!) – you’ll have your run of about 10 different artists each night split between Metropolis and the Société des arts technologiques, with the styles canvassing a wide array from highly danceable and bass-heavy techno or house to more eclectic explorations infused with twists of hip-hop, soul, funk, jazz, or swing.

Here at MUTEK, the creative canvas is left wide open. From old-fashioned turntabling to full live bands, from analog hardware to the latest mixing software on their laptop – and, most crucially, every conceivable combination in between – the artists delight in making full use of the freedom. Gawking at the workmanship is a huge part of the show.

Looking to the remaining days, Saturday night’s extended Nocturne will be a packed-house affair with deep moving beats until the early hours, as German minimal takes over Metropolis from 2am on with Âme and Efdemin, following on the heels of some bouncier Barcelona house by John Talabot right before. Meanwhile at the SAT, Tokimonsta and Nosaj Thing will be guaranteed to get you going.

Tonight’s Nocturne promises to be heavy on the face-melting visuals, as well as some old and new Canadian creators – namely, a new experimental project by Montrealer Ghislain Poirier, and a great new discovery named Graze closing out the night, both at the SAT. Global electronic music webzine Resident Advisor is presenting the Metropolis lineup, featuring the textured cinematic soundscapes of Jon Hopkins and Robert Hood’s stark Detroit minimal techno.

And if neither the SAT nor Metropolis are speaking to you, you can also duck into the more laid-back atmosphere of the Monument-National tonight or tomorrow night to check out the free Play series exploring creations with a more conceptual bent. In that same vein (the free one), you can stop by the new 2-22 5th floor lounge today from 5 to 7pm for some top-notch talent at the free Expérience series, featuring deep minimalist DJ HEAR, one of the most creative and engaging rising stars on the Montreal deep house circuit. Or swing by for the final and extended Expérience tomorrow from 3 to 8pm, where a local-heavy roster of underground discoveries awaits in an intimate daytime setting (and a wonderful new building).

If your evening calls for a dose of high culture, then MUTEK’s got you covered there too. The frequently mind-bending A/Visions series delivers the most inspired and engrossing creations ever to occupy a concert hall. If you’re looking for one this year – and also a great opportunity to experience the exquisite new Maison symphonique at an affordable rate – then I strongly suggest you head to MUTEK on Sunday evening for a once-in-a-lifetime performance by German minimal etherealists Pantha du Prince, in a highly anticipated collaboration with Norwegian collective The Bell Laboratory. There will be bells – three tonnes of bells. Need I say anything more?

 MUTEK 2013 runs until June 2nd in the Quartier des Spectacles. You can view the full program here.

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