2017 marks big year of anniversaries whirling around at MUTEK. Canada’ s preeminent hub of electronic music and digital creativity has grown up and turns 18, taking the occasion to change its dates, expand its program by a day and refresh its commitment to live performance at the intersection of music, visual art and technology. In parallel, Canada celebrates its 150th year, Montréal fêtes its 375th and Expo 67 the city’s futuristic beacon of innovation, commemorates its 50th; all elements that will form the backbone of this year’s festival. The fundamental DNA of the festival will continue to express values of discovery, revelation and community, emphasizing premieres, exclusive appearances and artistic ingenuity in fields of creation that continue to mutate and amaze.
MUTEK heralds its new era with the release of the first artist names for its 18th edition, with more to follow in the coming weeks:
Africaine 808 (DE) / Alexandre Burton & Julien Roy (artificiel) Three Pieces With Titles (CA) / Anchorsong (JP) / Aurora Halal (US) / Daphni (CA) / Detroit Swindle (NL) / Fis (NZ) / Graham Dunning (UK) / Harvey Sutherland (AU) / Herman Kolgen Impakt (CA) / Kara-Lis Coverdale VoxU (CA) / Kuniyuki Takahashi (JP) / Marie Davidson (CA) / Michela Pelusio & Glenn Vervliet SpaceTime Helix (IT/BE) / Murcof & Jimmy Lakatos (artificiel) Nebula (MX/CA) / Nicola Cruz (EC) / Robert Henke Lumière III (DE) / Rroxymore (FR) / Sarah Davachi (CA) / Sculpture (UK) / Zip (DE)
Now situated in the beating heart of the late summer, MUTEK expands its free outdoor offerings on the Esplanade de la Place des Arts from Tuesday to Sunday. This editions playground will also include the Monument-National as festival headquarters, the Métropolis for a full slate of diverse and big room programming, and the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT), the destination for more intimate, cutting-edge works, including events in the dome of the Satosphere.
DAPHNI all night long on Wednesday
MUTEK opens the Métropolis on Wednesday night with an exclusive, multi-hour set starring DAPHNI the experimental house and afro-funk solo project of Dan Snaith from Caribou. The sole artist in the room all night, he will conduct the evening from a centre perch on the floor with custom scenography, where he can cast an epic spell with his refined sense of pace and drama.
Red Bull Music Academy x MUTEK
Red Bull Music Academy returns as a partner for two major nights on Thursday and Friday at Métropolis. Taking a cue from their Drone Activity in Progressevent held last year while the Academy was in Montréal, Thursday night promises serious doses of drone and heaviosity with the full spectrum overtones of Sarah Davachi, claustrophobic atmospheres and grid-resistant rhythm from FIS, with more masterful and dangerous sound designers and noiseniks to be added.
As has become Friday night tradition, the program flexes its contemporary techno muscle with live sets that highlight the vivid and transportive power of the form. Already, two RBMA alumni will command the stage: a well road-tested, solo live set from Montréaler Marie Davidson, whos returning from a serious year of touring and a hallucinatory unfolding from Aurora Halal that will oscillate between the visceral and blissful. This is only the first hint at this program with much more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Saturday night at Métropolis
The Saturday all-nighter running until dawn at Métropolis is a carefully orchestrated reverie of long-form grooviness and a kind of crescendo point in the trajectory of the festival. Trippy French producer Rroxyore makes her live debut in Montréal, while an exclusive, rare visit from Perlon label head, Panorama Bar resident and notorious DJ ZIP will drive the crowd until lights up.
MUTEK’s signature program of performative audiovisual works, taking place in the immaculate theatre setting of the Monument-National once again puts the emphasis on extraordinary, precedent-setting artistic practices. This year exalts projects from several high-ranking wizards in this mercurial and magical milieu.
Artist-engineer-mad scientist Robert Henke brings the third iteration of his Lumière performance to the festival, an always evolving build on his unique audiovisual language articulating the poetic and affecting correlations between data, frequencies and lasers to dazzling and three-dimensional effect. Montréaler Herman Kolgen, himself always inventing new forms of dramatic and conceptual A/V, launches his latest ‘Impakt’ inspired by a personal accident, it plays with notions of vulnerability and reactions to shock, using ballistics, virtual projectiles and data. Montréal collective artificiel deliver two different world premieres this year. A commission for MUTEK, Alexandre Burton & Julien Roy unveil their brand new, souped-up, extreme real-time, audiovisual instrument with Three Pieces With Titles. Scenographer Jimmy Lakatos marries his elegant, reflective laser forms with new and original music by Mexican composer Marco in a piece called Nebula. This year the festival welcomes Michela Pelusio & Glenn Vervliet for a mesmerizing performance of their helical, sculptural, optical-acoustic instrument. More fantastical audiovisual experiences are still to be added.
Debuts and Discoveries
International newcomers this year arrive from all corners of the planet. From Ecuador, Nicola Cruz and his mix of indigenous folk and electrified cumbia makes his debut in Canada, as does young Australian, soul-jazz-funk-house keyboard player and producer Harvey Sutherland. From Japan, the festival welcomes veteran producer Kuniuki Takahashi, also know as Koss, whose formidable discography spans delicate string and piano works, complex and elegant jazz influenced house, long form improv and techno and the critically acclaimed downtempo, vintage African influenced producer Anchorsong, whose live reputation precedes him in the UK where he has been based. German duo African 808 (featuring Dirk Leyers ex-Closer Musik) bring their deferential, globetrotting, polyrhythmic electronic creations and sweaty live show to the festival. In a more experimental vein, British artist Graham Dunning performs his mechanical techno using vinyl, turntables and all sorts of other inventive hackery.