06/08/2005: "mutek, part 1."
MUTEK officially started last Wednesday, but I didn't get to Montreal til Thursday night, and didn't get to MUTEK until Friday. The focus of MUTEK is on live laptop sets. It took a little time for me to get used to this; I'm so conditioned to receiving electronic music in the form of DJ sets, where every track is by a different person and there's still a bit of a mechanical/analog feel to it. Seeing performers stare at laptop screens all night, playing only their own music, could be a little wearing at times. But when it was on, it was on. Friday night's big stars were Bruno Pronsato (on Seattle's fast-rising Orac label--a label to watch, for sure), Apparat, and Pan/Tone, a.k.a. Sid LeRock. Though they were all good, the big draw for me was Apparat. The dude works with Shitkatapult and Bpitchcontrol (he works a lot with Ellen Allien) and he absolutely smokes live. This is what it looked like after he got going:
Once he got comfortable--he had a laptop crash midway through which temporarily destroyed the vibe--the second half of his set was pretty stunning. Low on the clicks'n'cuts stuff that bores me to be honest and heavy on hard, bangin' techno. I'm not too familiar with his oeuvre but I thought I was hallucinating, because it felt like a DJ set even though I knew it wasn't. Some of his tracks bore slight resemblances to things I already knew. Not that he was copying any particular sound, but there were faint traces of familiarity--one had a bassline that reminded me of Superpitcher's 'Fieber,' and another had that expansive roiling-mass-of-energy quality to it that felt like Joey Beltram. A good night, but basically a preface to Saturday and Sunday, which promised total insanity.
Saturday's big headliner--and the most anticipated event of all of Mutek 2005 for many--was Sense Club, a.k.a. Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos. But take a look at that marquee for a moment and notice, quelle horreur, that there's a big name missing. Yep, Villalobos 'missed his flight' from Berlin; take that as you will. The third time he's missed a Montreal gig! Since Villalobos had all the laptops, software, and gear, Luciano was forced to make do with this:
When I found out Villalobos was down for the count, I wasn't heartbroken. Or even mildly disappointed. (And Luciano still rocked hard.) I've had the chance to see Villalobos in the flesh twice before, once in London and once in Cologne, and the big draw for me was a live set by Canada's own Mathew Jonson. (If you're not familiar with Jonson, go here and download Mark Consumption's all-Mathew-Jonson mix pronto.) Atom Heart replaced Villalobos on extremely short notice, and I like Atom Heart a lot--he was one of the first 'electronic musicians' I started listening to as a teenager--so I was psyched. Plus the fact that Villalobos was missing injected a lot of high drama and heavy tension into the night that wouldn't have been there otherwise, which I found exciting. Would Luciano blow a fuckin' fuse and start smashing laptops a la Kurt Cobain onstage, I wondered? Would Akufen gallantly jump up and offer to sing 'My Way: The Musical' to make up for Villalobos' indiscretions? Would Villalobos materialize suddenly in a Darth Vader outfit and darkly intone "Luciano, I am your father"?
And were Gallopierende Zuversicht really from Switzerland, or would they reveal that they were aliens? Judging by their live set (total asskicking), I'd say they were aliens.
Luciano delivers the goods
Stay tuned for Mutek, Part 2! I gotta go to bed, and this laptop is burning a hole in my femur.