Mutek 2016: The ABSOLUTE Essentials

From June 1st to the 5th, the 17th edition of Mutek, a celebration of the crossings between contemporary electronic music and digital art, will take place in its birthplace of Montreal. Recent years have seen Mutek expand to establishing events in Mexico City and Barcelona, but it is in our lovely city that the festival’s history is firmly rooted. Showcasing each year’s international luminaries of digital culture alongside home grown talent since its inception in 2000, this edition is set to forge once again a legendary spectacle of sound and vision for both newcomers and connoisseurs.

Despite there being a plethora of artists from an array of electronic music’s talent, we feel the need to distill this to an (almost) objective list of must-sees, essentials and cannot-be-missed artists, especially those who may fall beneath some people’s radars (AND SHOULDN’T!!)


NOCTURNE 1 | Musée d’Art Contemporain @ 9pm
On opening night, attendees will be treated to an international roster spanning from nu-pop to left field techno, all pushing high detailed low-end business where, for the most part, 4/4 beats will be put to rest. As difficult as it is to boil down, our top pick has to be Aïsha Devi in the Main Room of the MAC. Presenting her very individual spin on pop, Devi is an artist who frankly puts Ye and Riri to shame. Her sound is an acceleration of her Swiss-Tibetan roots, done so in a manner that signifies a new breed of cross-cultural music that could only exist in this post-internet age. It’s current, heavy and a little bit epic. Looking for sounds with a bit more grit? We heavily endorse local project for a more heads down affair. They’re also playing in the Main Room.

THURSDAY, June 2nd

NOCTURNE 2 | Musée d’Art Contemporain @ 9pm
If it is possible for sounds to be associated with colours, Thursday night will show up in ethereal shades of pink, purple and white, breathing new life into anyone who stayed out a little too late. Nocturne 2 is a writer’s dream line-up, although extra notice does need to be paid to Montreal-based composer Kara-Lis Coverdale. Having come to many people’s attention through her collaborative work with Tim Hecker (who’ll also play Thursday), Coverdale has made her own mark through releases of celestial modern classical that fuses minimalism with the best tropes of current electronic music. In the BWR Room, local producer Simon Chioini will be warping heads with his Juke meets GRM style of percussive action.

FRIDAY, June 3rd

EXPÉRIENCE 2 | Quartier des Spectacles @ 5pm
Friday night guys, so it’d be wrong to deny ourselves a little dancing, right? Enjoy a free event during the daytime will take at Quartier des Spectacles where amongst others, PAN records’ Lee Gamble will be djing. Anyone familiar with his on NTS Radio knows he is a selector of the highest calibre, and his set here could be the hottest ticket of the day.

NOCTURNE 3 | Musée d’Art Contemporain @ 9pm
Friday is a hard draw between Expérience 2 and the main room of the MAC which will show the Canadian premiere of the propulsive footwork of Jlin. Her arrhythmic percussion creates an atmosphere indicative of the current flux of club culture, working both for the body and for the brain.

SATURDAY, June 4th

A/VISIONS 2 |  Salle Pierre-Mercure @ 9:30pm
Saturday’s pick HAS to be Paul Jebanasam and his collaboration with visual artist Tarik Barri. They’ll be turning Salle Pierre-Mercure basically into The Large Hadron Collider (hyperbole intended) with enough low-end rumble and flourishing synth work to make you question the fabric of your being. Or, at the very least, make you question getting a better sound system in your living room. This event may be the festival at its most euphoric, marrying hyperreal visuals with meticulous sound design in order to leave your senses heightened, warped and decimated.

SUNDAY, June 5th

MUTEK » PIKNIC ÉLECTRONIK | Jean-Drapeau Park @ 2pm
The final day sees Mutek take a hold of the Piknic Électronik at Jean-Drapeau Park, with big tune dj’s from the likes of Josh Wink moving bodies in the afternoon and until the sun goes down. After that it will be time to head straight to the MAC.

NOCTURNE 5 Musée d’Art Contemporain @ 9pm
Our choice here has to be Canadian cellist Julia Kent. Her layers of melody and texture express a deep emotional relationship to her instruments. The sombre warm tones of her work are reminiscent of some of Tindersticks works for film. It’ll sooth ears that may be tired after 5 days of PA systems. This closer promises to be a moving and profound performance and the perfect way to end this expertly curated week of contemporary electronic art.

There’s a myriad of talent being showcased this year. We didn’t even touch on the excellent day programming that hosts the VR Salon #2 at Phi Centre and the Composite #5 symposium at Autodesk. With collaborations with Red Bull Music Academy, Shape, Bloc and Resident Advisor amongst others, there really is something for everyone no matter what your interest. Check the full programme here and buy your tickets (before they are sold out) here.