samedi, mai 31, 2008

mutek_2008_Day2: Afternoon & EveningStuff

Experience 2: Street (sm)art

I had been working away at the café at a leisurely pace, thinking that I had until 20h00 that night to get whatever I needed done. However, I eventually realized that there were a bunch of interesting artists performing at the “Expérience” event going on at 17h00 that day. It was already 16h30, so I had no time to go to the hotel and change my backpack for my lighter party bag. So off I went, with my laptop and other paperwork on my back, to the SAT for a bit more dancing.

17h00-18h00: Dafluke

I arrived to the SAT space (where last night’s “Nocturne” had taken place) as Dafluke had just started performing. His set started off sounding rather eclectic, bringing in tracks that sounded like filter-house and Berlin-style minimal techno (see the first two videos below), but it eventually settled into a more straightforward tech-house sound (see the third video).

As I was hanging out and enjoying Dafluke’s set, I had another set of Chicago-related surprises. In total, another 7 people materialized unannounced from the Chicago scene. Yay! Mutek_2008 is turning into something of a Chicago reunion, including several former Chicago folks who are now living elsewhere in the world.

18h00-19h00: Barem

Although Barem’s set was not the one that would finally inspire me to dance despite my backpack and warm scarf, it was still a really good one. The overall sound was one of gradually-shifting minimal techno soundscapes, using pulsing synth tones with rounded envelopes and long, resonant bass kicks (see videos below, from the beginning of the set). As the set progressed, he incorporated more and more high-frequency clicks on off-beats (in the place of usual hi-hats). The overall sound, then, filled the low, middle and high frequency ranges with various layers (resonant bass kics, pulsing synths, syncopated clicks respectively) operating at various pulse levels / speeds (slowest, fastest, medium respectively).

I sould mention that if there was a real “star” of this particular event, it was the video work done by Doma of Argentina. He was responsible for all of the visuals you see in the clips I took of this event, and they totally kicked my ass. I just love his style of bright colours and clean lines, gliding in a very smooth way. Check out the arcs of stars in the backgrounds of the video for Barem.

19h00-20h00: Chic Miniature

Doma’s video for Chic Miniature’s set, however, was fucking awesome. As far as my visual aesthetics are concerned, it hit all of my pleasure receptors: bright colours, flat solid shapes and clean lines, iconic designs, cute creatures, gliding animation, and so on. I tried my best to capture all of this in the photos and video I took of the event, and hopefully you can get an idea of what I loved from the materials below. I was surprised by how much I liked it all.

Of course, it certainly helped that the music this video was accompanying was some of my favorite so far this festival. Chic Miniature is made up of Ernesto Ferreyra and Guillaume Coutu-Dumont, the latter of which was also at one point one half of the duo Egg (whose work I have enthused about before). Their sound was very much in the clickety-microhouse vein that I’ve been fond of for quite a while. The overall rhythmic “feel” was that of house, with a relatively thin texture and an emphasis on intricate high-frequency patterns (i.e., clicky stuff), thumping bass kicks and melodic basslines (as always, check out the video for a few samples).

NOTE: For a while, one of the members of Chic Miniature started improvising on what appeared to be a MIDI controller connected to conga samples. In other words: an electro-conga solo. This in and of itself was kind of amusing and added a certain bright and acidic tang to the set (yes, I'm very taste-driven), but this also inaugurated what some of us would later dub The Mutek of Congas. Also, there were a lot of distant, reverbed mariachi trumpets this weekend, but the ChicMiniature boys didn't go there.

This event was supposed to finish around 20h00, and the next event (another “A\Visions” concert) was going to start at the same time, giving me no chance to go back to the hotel to change and drop off my laptop and such. So, alas, I had to cut short my time with Chic Miniature to get back to the hotel in time. Even with the early departure from this event, I didn’t make the concert until about 20 minutes after the start.

A\Visions: Machine Music Revisited

Even though I left early from the previous show, I still was late getting back to the concert after my quick detour by the hotel, so I had to enter about halfway through the first performance, by Ben Frost. Although lovely and atmospheric in their own rights, I have to admit that the performances of both Frost and the following artist, Tim Hecker, were unexceptional; that is, I felt like both of their pieces were interchangeable with any other electroaccoustic piece you could find at some conservatory / art school. Having said that, they weren't unpleasant to listen to.

Partially discouraged by these lackluster performances, and partly out of desperate hunger, I ducked out before the final performance, that of Christian Fennesz. Of course, I would later find out that Fennesz's performance was fantastic and the video accompaniment was stunning. Grr.

On the upside, I had dinner in the restaurant attached to the Theâtre du Nouveau Monde, which included mushrooms sautéed in smoked lard and lamb tagine. Mercifully, the portions were small, so I could still dance later that night. As I wrapped up my dinner, the crowd was letting out of the concert, so I caught up with some of the Chicago crew and followed them over to the Métropolis for the main event of the evening.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure: I'm pretty sure I saw Marc Leclair a.k.a. Akufen outside smoking after the concert, and it took some serious self-control to not launch myself at him and be a totally annoying fan. I *heart* that guy's work.

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