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April 12, 2002

++ MUTEK 2002 Preview

++ Le musique nouveau est arrive! MUTEK, Montreal's upstart digital music festival, has announced the lineup for the third edition of the event, which will take place from Wednesday, May 29 to Sunday, June 2. The five-day festival, one of North America's premiere electronic music events, will feature more than 50 artists from 10 different countries, running the gamut from electro-acoustic to electro-ecstatic, from minimal to libidinal.

Topping the list of more than 50 artists are several European heavy hitters who have seldom, if ever, performed in North America. The Skam label's obsessive fans should be sated by rare performances from Bola and the Gescom DJs. (No word yet on who, exactly, is representing Gescom, a loose collective with ties to Autechre.) The London duo SND, best known for their ultra-minimal click experiments for Mille Plateaux, will open the festival, along with the Dutch label ERS's Radboud Mens and Bas Van Koolwyk.

++ English experimental turntablist Janek Schaefer — recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for designing the world's most versatile turntable — shares a bill with Germany's master of fuzzy sampladelia, Stephan Mathieu, who will present his project Sad Mac Studies.

Mathieu reappears two days later as part of the label showcase for San Francisco's Orthlorng Musork. Along with his Full Swing project, the label will showcase the deconstructed dub of Brooklyn's Timeblind, the laptop fractures of AGF from the Berlin band Laub, and, in a likely highlight of the festival, a collaboration between AGF and Finland's Vladislav Delay.

++ In another coup for the organizers, Delay will also present the click-disco of his Luomo project, sharing the bill with three microhouse mavens from Germany's Klang/Playhouse: Farben (Jan Jelinek), Losoul, and Ricardo Villalobos.

Representing both Germany and his native Chile, Villalobos, as I've written elsewhere on Neumu, represents an under-documented exchange between Teutonic techno and Latin American cultures (an axis of electronica, perhaps?), and this year's MUTEK continues to stress the growing importance of Southern electronic music. The final night of the festival will present Mexico's Murcof (Context, Static, Leaf), Argentina's Juan Self, and two more frequent fliers between Chile and Germany: Dandy Jack, presenting Sieg über die Sonne, and the many-aliased Atom™ (AKA Uwe Schmidt), who has recorded as Señor Coconut, Atom Heart, Lassigue Bendthaus, the Lisa Carbon Trio, LB, and also as a contributor to post-everything projects like HAT and Flanger. As a final tribute to the true discofanáticos in the house, the festival will close out with a collaborative performance from Atom, Dandy Jack and Villalobos, and if last year's head-to-head between the latter two is any indication, it should be nothing less than incendiary.

++ "This third edition isŠ proof that MUTEK is here to stay," said organizer Alain Mongeau. Originally a spinoff of FCMM, Montreal's cinema and new media festival, MUTEK established itself at the end of 2001 as an independent, non-profit organization — a move that should let the event continue to establish its own mission and voice.

The festival's emphasis on glitch and click-techno in its first two years led some to typecast it as a purely minimalist affair, but 2002 sees a broader range of sounds represented. "I think the balance is better this year," Mongeau said. "The main program's trajectory is still two experimental nights at [film center] Ex-Centris, two more dancy nights at Metropolis, and one last night which is more like dessert, opening on different horizons (Latin electronica). In addition to that, there are more radical experiments in the daytime program, [like] the 'Emergence' series, which culminates on Saturday afternoon with the Orthlorng Musork showcase."

The two "nightcaps," a MUTEK tradition held in the SAT, a former bank turned into a nightclub, offer even more different vistas: on the one hand, Bola's "IDM orthodoxy," as Mongeau puts it, and on the other, the spandex-and-sequins mayhem of Felix Kubin's carnivalesque organ grinding.

As usual, there's no shortage of Montreal artists: MUTEK 2002 will host hometown talents Akufen, Mike Shannon, Ghislain Poirier, [dioxyde], Alexandre Burton, Zack Zettel, Leon Lo, Andrew Watson, Chris Nyborg, Michaelangelo Fratino, Camp, Vromb, and — in a live collaboration with Berlin's MonolakeDeadbeat. Representing other corners of Canada are Solvent vs. Lowfish, Ben Nevile, Vitaminsforyou, Hellothisisalex, Duul_drv, Repair, Jeremy Caulfield, and Pan/tone.

++ MUTEK's commitment to local and regional artists has defined its character from the beginning, and with good reason. "It feels a little like MUTEK helped to put Montreal on the map," commented Mongeau on the city's current reputation as a platform for electronic music. "More and more people interested and involved in this field are actually movingŠ to the city," or planning to do so, he says. "Our advantage is that we're able to translate the best of the old and the new continents. And electronic music and sound are great channels because they don't deal with language issues — which is critical for us, as the language issue has been choking us for decades."


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