Some quick thoughts on Mutek:
Unfortunatly, I wasn't able to get up to Montreal earlier than Friday night. My flight ended up being delayed, and didn't arrive until one or so. Initial impression of Montreal was their spanking new airport, which is about as sleek and pared down as the minimal techno that the city is increasingly becoming known for. I set down the bags and ventured out to find the main venue, which was a three floor multi-use space. Upon my arrival, I managed to get lost in the venue for a bit, checking out some glitched-out laptoppery, which didn't do much to propel me out of my slightly weary state.
After guzzling a few Red Bulls, I finally stumbled onto the feature level, right for the beginning of Apparat's set. This was my first Mutek experience (after having cancelled last-minute due to work last year). I was pleasantly surprised to find that every artist was playing live, rather than turning up with a crate of records. Apparat played what can be best described as a improv techno set, eschewing a lot of the more nuanced production in favor of aggressive basslines and balls-out barnstormers. He was followed by Pan/Tone (aka Sid Le Rock) whos recorded for various labels including Sender, Kompakt and Sub Rosa. He carried on the vibe where Apparat left off, but not having any sort of a notebook at the time, specific tracks are eluding me at the moment.
I spent most of Sunday wondering around Montreal, absorbing the glorious post-winter hibernation cafe and revelry vibe. One thing that stuck out was the fact that you could walk down a main street like St. Laurent and feel like you were in North America, and then walk down the French St. Denis, and feel like you had instantly made a transatlantic jump onto a European high street. I enjoyed my time exploring, met up with a few friends for a coffee, and generally enjoyed the summer atmosphere. Everyone in the entire city seemed to be in a great mood, and coupled with my anticipation for the evening ahead, this made for quite nice time.
During the course of the day, one of the press officers for Mutek, Paulina Borda, mentioned that Ricardo Villalobos, due to play in tandem with Luciano as Sense Club, "missed his flight"/ "lost his passport." The fact that this is the third time Mr. Villalobos has pulled this on Mutek tells you all you need to know about the professionalism involved here. Lesson learned: Passports are hard to find when you are in the K Hole. To the credit of the festival organizers, everyone involved bounced back from this in a professional manner. Monolake opened with a fairly minimal, subdued vibe, and then Canada's Matthew Jonson picked things up with a stellar set, re-arranging his back catalogue through the use of a laptop and what I gathered to be running Ableton live and a Midi controller. Luciano made the best of what he could out of the situation, and performed a mindblowing set of his subtle, textured polyrhythms and delving progressively deeper into it.
Atom Heart and the Original Hamster filled Villalobos' void with an interesting set consisting of the sort of beat you hear emmanating out of every car as you walk around in southside williamsburg. It was an odd amalgamation of reggaeton, acid and techno (complete with filthy spanish acapellas) that varied the sound of the night nicely, and certainly kept me on the balls of my feet for the duration of their set. What's more, they cobbled their live set together with borrowed drum machines and equipment that they managed to assemble just a few hours before.
Galoppierende Zuversicht headlined the evening (they're playing in New York soon!), and managed to endear themselves to an up-for-it crowd. While many people had no idea who these guys were at the beginning of the evening, the tongue-twister name was deciphered and surely scrawlled down into a few notebooks as ones to watch.
The personal highlight of the entire festival for me was my final day. The organizers put together a picnic on a lovely island right on the water in Montreal. Luciano and Serafin played back to back for a crowd of bathing suit clad techno revellers, followed by Montreal's own Steven Beaupre and Pier and Andres Bucci-- who are certainly ones that I'm going to keep and eye on.
All in all, an amazing city, and an absolutely fantastic festival that I'm going to do my best to make it to in all its locales from now on.