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Adventures in Musek, I mean, Mutek 2007

Posted by Robyn / June 1, 2007

Hauschka (w/Semiconductor), Colleen, Mark Templeton & aAron Munson @ Ex-Centris (with video footage after the jump)

Mutek this year is a little different, somehow. Maybe the main difference is that its headquarters are in the Hotel Godin - the refurbished classic building on the corner of St. Laurent and Sherbrooke. I have long been skeptical of this place for no reason in particular but probably mostly because it doesn't exactly scream "fun", e.g., it is so beige and grey, why is it so beige and grey? But so I thought that maybe with the hosting of a music festival, a super hip niche electronique international festival for that matter, that perhaps this hotel knows a thing or two.

I will tell you that it knows a thing or two about the word "sedate." Though free performances ran all afternoon Wednesday and Thursday, and also today until 7pm, the whole thing felt quiet and tucked away out of site. The positive side: these showcases featured a huge list of Canadian artists and a big stage and pretty decent sound. Maybe the dreary weather is to blame? I couldn't be there to witness every performance though, so my perception is obviously flawed here.

However, I do know that the showcase I saw last night was perception altering.

In a good close-your-eyes-and-see-the-universe way. Though the Ex-Centris theatre's seating was understandably limited, meaning that I was forced to miss the opening act of Canadian laptop artist Mark Templeton and Edmonton filmmaker aAron Munson, I did see part of Colleen's performance and the entirely of Hauschka's set. Here is where words like "sedate" can be thrown out and replaced by "wow" and "awesome" and "sonically satiated."

French artist Colleen performed on the viola de gamba, a 7-string ancestor to the cello, as well as strings of bells, samples and effects pedals, including an enviable loop pedal, creating huge swirls and swaths of sound throughout the theatre. I was sad to have not caught the entirely of her set, but so happy for the chance to witness her live. Entirely beautiful and slightly other worldly.

After a short break to move an upright piano on stage, its front panel removed and well-amplified, German artist and classically trained pianist Hauschka, whose latest album is out on Fat Cat, began a performance that made me forget about the rainy weather and my heavy workload. Paired up with British visual/video/animation artists Semiconductor, Hauschka's classical meets experimental meets post-rock style took on even more life as contact microphones hooked up to Semiconductor's equipment synched brightly coloured dancing geometric shapes up with each note.

Hauschka, clearly happy to be performing his debut in North America as part of Mutek, reached into the piano throughout the performace, plucking strings, taping objects such as bottlecaps under the keys' hammers, and later ripping them off and tossing them over his shoulder. The alteration of the piano's sound and tone, while on the one hand strange to hear, completely drew me in - this stuff is interesting in the way that interesting was before it became an overused word. Each amplified rumble and rip of tape and twack of fingers added unexpected yet fitting dimensions to a performance that reeled from outright fun, to intellectual, to poetic, to ultimately very very real. All of which I love.

::: click for video footage! :::

Also!: Mutek presents Piknic Electronik Saturday AND Sunday afternoon at Parc Jean Drapeau, as well as events tonight and Saturday night! more info



scott / June 2, 2007 at 02:37 pm
awesome. i like colleen's stuff a lot, and i like your phrase about this show being "interesting in the way interesting was before it became an overused word." so true.
Greg J. Smith / June 9, 2007 at 10:37 am
Ha! For a slightly less glowing review of this show please see
Drugs Online / November 20, 2010 at 05:05 pm
Thank you for such a position makes no picking his nose and scratching your balls. And to think and develop.
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