MUTEK showcases some of the best music & art made with machines & algorithms

Whatever the Weather, Caterina Barbieri and Bendik Giske are among the artists performing at the 23rd edition of the festival, from Aug. 23 to 28.

The 23rd edition of MUTEK, Montreal’s digital art and electronic music festival, is upon us. Soon the tech demons will come out to play and the EDM fairies will revel in the electric twilight of the wub wub music. No seriously, there is really something for everyone even remotely interested in electronic music or digital art at this festival, which runs from Aug. 23 to 28.

Although, can you really call it a festival? It’s more an open showcase of some of the best music and art people can create with algorithms and machines. It’s world renowned, and for good reason. The setlist is always fresh with a lineup that spans generations and the most current names in the electronic music, audio-visual art and sound exploration. 

MUTEK has separated this year’s events into four series: Nocturne, Play, A/Visions and Experience.

Nocturne is for electronic music’s “more rhythmic and enthralling forms of expression and features original, immersive scenography.” Play consists of more multidisciplinary forms of video art, sound art and other “playful” forms with a backdrop of synthesizers and mixing tables. A/Visions are recurring and sometimes gargantuan sensory audio visual installations catered to an “epicurean audience in search of novelty and escape.” Yes, this festival can seem a bit pretentious to the outside viewer, but you would be, too, if you’ve had nothing but success in the last two decades. 

Finally we have Experience, a series of free concerts in Esplanade Tranquille aimed at grabbing the attention of any passersby. So let’s say you’re not too informed about some of the names but want to feel cool going to a state of the art audio-visual festival. Maybe you completely glossed over a name like Caterina Barbieri. Not to worry, we have a little list, in no particular order, of highlights for this year’s MUTEK. 

Caterina Barbieri 

Starting us off is Caterina Barbieri. You could call her a wunderkind of the modular synth world, even though she’s 31. Barbieri is an Italian composer who manipulates and shapes machines to create waves of cathartic and euphoric electronic bliss. She uses repetition and polyphonic madness to span the gamut on electronic minimalism, and her July release, Spirit Exit — featuring the first time she has used vocals — is one of her most accessible and adept albums to date. Her show is going to be bonkers, with a chaotic light show that she controls, and you’d be a fool to miss her. 


Yeohee Kim is better known as machìna in the electronic world. She hails from Korea, but is based in Tokyo and her combination of house and melodic techno is sure to have you tapping a foot or two. Her music also features a ton of bass, so make sure to bring ear plugs. Her Trusted EP just dropped this March. She may seem frail in person, but once she’s on stage, watch out.

Bendik Giske

What do you get when you combine saxophone, electroacoustic instrumentation and the lightest touch of minimal electro experimentation? Something close to Norway’s Bendik Giske. He makes the kind of music you would hear at a queer poetry night or an intellectual meeting of the minds. Whatever your poison, he’s going to put on a show you’ve never heard or seen before. 

Cora Novoa

If you’re a huge techno buff or just want to hallucinate that you’re on the Paris Fashion Week runway, you can look no further than Cora Novoa. Hailing from Catalonia, Spain and based in Barcelona, Cora Novoa makes the kind of techno for when a guy like John Wick annihilates an entire squad of bad guys in rhythmic succession. This show’s going to be major sweaty. 

Myriam Bleau 

You gotta hand it to the locals to be at the forefront of the audio visual world. Myriam Bleau is not only an accomplished digital artist that has worked with the echelon of experimental acts in Montreal and the world, but she is also a fantastic minimal ambient drone electronic artist with a flair for complexity and simplicity alike. Her music is made to completely take you out of your surroundings and make you dive head first into an ocean of uncertainty.

T. Gowdy 

Noise gates and temporal burning speakers, T. Gowdy is another electro drone sound designer with a penchant for the arcane world of programming and rhythmic synths. You’ll feel like you’re in the jungle at times or running for your life on an obelisk of glass. If that doesn’t make sense, check out his live show, you dingbat. 

Whatever the Weather 

There’s a downtempo IDM kind of ‘chill beats to study and relax to’ artist called Whatever the Weather (aka Loraine James), from across the pond in the U.K. that is sure to lift your spirits in these troubling times. The crystalline vocal work, subtle electronic keys and almost next to no percussion is sure to send chills down your spine. It’s not so much a concert as a meditative experience. Not music to throw on for a dance party, but more of a sway party, if those exist. 


Aquarian may look like a timid third-year history prof, but on the stage he’s a monster. His music is filthy, inspired by the all-weekend parties in the deepest, darkest pits of a German electro club. It’s disorienting and inspiring for havoc and party drugs (though we don’t condone that). 

Gabber Modus Operandi 

Bali, Indonesia might be the destination for granola grandmas and hippies with money, but it also contains an underground yet burgeoning heavy trance club scene. This and the hardcore aspects of punk and techno is where Gabber Modus Operandi makes their home. You might even hear some Indonesian folklore and ghost stories backed up with a fiery wall of fast-paced techno. The Dutch may have invented gabber, the subgenre of techno where the group gets their name, but Bali may be reclaiming it.

For more on MUTEK 2022, please visit the festival’s website.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.