Six reasons why you need to get to MUTEK

The next five days will see over 140 artists and dozens of performances in various venues around downtown. Read about the best of the fest here.

Tokimonsta, playing MUTEK on Saturday night
MUTEK is back for its 14th edition, and while a quick scan of the program may not yield as many immediately familiar names as in years past, there are plenty of gems waiting to be devoured by electronic music fans of all stripes.

MUTEK really excels at presenting unique and exclusive performances from cutting-edge artists (the debut of Amon Tobin’s mind-melting ISAM audio/visual spectacle in 2011 springs immediately to mind) while encouraging the discovery of new talents, and this year seems to be no exception.

As a veteran attendee of the festival, I can assure you the schedule can be a bit punishing, especially if you plan on going to events every night. The next five days will see over 140 artists and dozens of performances in various venues around downtown.

Matthew Herbert’s One Pig

A good way to ease into it (and to save your energy for when things really get going) is by taking in Matthew Herbert‘s presentation of One Pig at the Monument National tonight. This performance is based on an album he made that samples sounds taken from a pig’s journey from farm to fork and is the first of three unique performances he will be giving over the course of the festival. If that alone doesn’t tickle your porcine fancy, Quebec chef Martin Juneau will be on hand to cook an actual pig.

This year, the Nocturne events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday seem like a good way to get the most bang for your buck. Each night’s ticket price grants you access to all the performances happening at both Metropolis and the SAT, and the venues’ close proximity to one another will afford festival-goers the opportunity to hop back and forth and take in as much as possible.

Thursday night highlights include a live set of blue-eyed electro-soul courtesy of Jamie Lidell, the dubby, thudding beats of Manchester’s Andy Stott and the ever-reliable Martyn, who returns to MUTEK with a new a/v show to accompany a set that will likely connect the dots between bass music and full-on techno.

Friday evening’s Nocturne event will see local beatsmith Ghislain Poirier delivering a live performance at the SAT under his new Boundary moniker. For the evening, he will be putting aside the reggae, dancehall and soca rhythms in favour of some heavily atmospheric sounds with a techno lean. This kind of exclusive debut and subsequent discovery is what can make MUTEK really memorable. (For more about Boundary, see my interview with Poirier tomorrow at

Lauren Halo

Saturday night is a total mixed bag, with something for any sort of electronic music enthusiast. You can’t really go wrong with John Talabot‘s nuanced brand of disco and house, Laurel Halo‘s experimental polyrhythms or the glitched out bass beats of L.A.’s Nosaj Thing and Tokimonsta. For the party gluttons, Metropolis will be staying open and pulling an all-nighter with a late set of house and techno courtesy of Berlin producer Efdemin.

MUTEK is collaborating once again with Piknic Électronik this year, and if you are still standing by Sunday afternoon, there will be a slew of DJs, some live performances and a surprise guest or two over on Île Ste-Hélène.

If you can part with your cash, MUTEK definitely seems poised to deliver the goods again this year. For everyone else, they’re putting on free, daily ‘5 à 8’ performances by up-and-coming local artists at their new headquarters at the corner of St-Laurent and Ste-Catherine, and unlike last year, you won’t have to navigate through crowds of protesters and clouds of police pepper spray to attend. ■
MUTEK takes place in multiple venues, May 29–June 2

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