Posts Tagged ‘mutek’

Tim Hecker & Stephen O’Malley at MUTEK

June 16, 2012

2 June 2012

Montreal sound artist Tim Hecker and Seattle hesher Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) fame joined forces for the 13th edition of MUTEK in Montreal to play the historic and recently refurbished St. James United Church in the heart of centre-ville. With O’Malley on guitars and pedals and Hecker playing the church’s monstrous pipe organ, and adding electronics here and there, the effect was powerful and hypnotic as an intense drone filled the church – the only light source a red glow pulsating from the stage.

A steady rain poured outside, as I sat up in the mezzanine, stoned and a little bit drunk, gazing at the beautiful architecture and thinking of how this was such an amazing combination of the sacred and secular. The venue was a perfect choice, catering to the wall of sound Hecker and O’Malley slowly built, while adding a touch of reverence and fear for the end of days. At about the halfway mark, the volume reached its crescendo and I had to pop in my earplugs, feeling as if the sound was actually coming out of me, coming out of everyone in the church really…the feedback a visceral and palpable vibration emanating from our very pores. It was pretty sensational. At times, O’Malley really crunched up his riffs, dropping D, and getting all gloom and doomy, while at other moments the sound would slowly drift into a more dulcet drone and allow us to catch out breath, until O’Malley’s guitar would blast off again.

Even though I found this show thrilling, I must admit I became restless about 30 minutes in. Perhaps the weed had something to do with it, or maybe I wasn’t quite in the right headspace for a subjective 90 minute drone-fest. Or maybe, I was really kinda hoping Hecker was going to treat us to Ravedeath, 1972 instead of playing in tandem with O’Malley. Still, it was a fascinating take on sound collaboration and improvisation by two of today’s finest experimental artists, as well as, a highlight of this year’s excellent MUTEK festival.

– sound quality is good, pic not so good, watch in HD
– media courtesy of Jacquelyn Taylor

Marc Leclair – Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes

July 14, 2010

An absolute and understated classic from Marc Leclair, “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” was released in 2005. Leclair is probably best known for his work as tech-house wizard Akufen, but with “Musique” he tapped into something special, and overall it exceeds his work under the Akufen moniker, because it’s much broader in scope and so much more subtle in execution. Yes, I love “My Way”, and when I first saw Akufen play in Detroit in 2002 with Luciano and Dandy Jack at The Works, I thought I’d witnessed the future of techno music. I remember smiling and dancing non-stop and being proud that he was representing Canada and MTL, the city I would move to a year later. And for awhile, Akufen was indeed the shit — his tracks were meticulously produced, uber-groovy, and they bumped hard and heavy — but he was never able to match the grandeur and finesse of “My Way”. His releases afterwards fell flat or felt samey in comparison.

Yet with “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” he tapped into a whole new vibe. Leclair seamlessly meshed the ambient with the minimal, and the organic with the digital to smashing effect, and tossed in the conceptual aspect of his wife’s (and 2 friends) pregnancy to go along with it. The album features nine tracks, one for each month and begins almost clinically with “1er jour”, a collaboration with Rechenzentrum featuring very dark and digital programming, presumably signifying the child’s conception. By “64e jour”, the album begins to warm up, with organic ambience and Steve Reich inspired piano patterns. The next two tracks feature the sounds of water, rain, thunder, and begin to slowly open — as if he’s trying to recreate the experience of the nascent child growing in the womb. By “150er jour”, Leclair’s aesthetic palette expands exponentially, adding in guitars, loops, glitched beats, and by the end of the track a soft rolling 4/4 beat.

The album slowly unfolds and evolves from quiet minimal ambience to full on Akufen-inflected tech house by the album’s last track, “236e jour”. The baby is being born, it’s amazing and joyous, and you can’t help but wanna get up and dance. Throughout, Leclair’s knack for production is flawless, and as an album its flow is perfect in execution. I have fallen asleep countless times to this album, but I have also put it on many times as the precursor to a great night out. “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” is truly a fantastic electronic album and one that needs to be listened to by more people. It’s never too late to check it.


Marsen Jules Trio at MUTEK

June 9, 2010

4 June 2010

Ambient neo-classicist hero, Marsen Jules, made his North American debut at this year’s MUTEK festival in Montreal. Accompanied by twin brothers Anwar and Jan Phillip Alam on violin and piano, Jules had the large crowd enraptured as his emotive and glacial soundscapes swirled and pulsed in the airy Monument-National Theatre.

Marsen Jules is my favourite of all composers in the ever expanding genre of modern classical/ambient music. The opening track on Herbstlaub, “Fanes D’Automne” is the most played track on my iTunes, and his music has sailed me off to sweet dreams many a night, as well as, welcomed the dawn with me on many a morn. So you can imagine how stoked I was to finally experience his music in a live setting. And what a performance it was. Choice of venue had a lot to do with it, and the Monument-National was perfect, providing a large theatre space with phenomenal acoustics. The visuals by VJ Nicolai Konstatinovic were an excellent addition to the concert — showcasing abstract imagery in uber-vivid colour, as well as calming footage of hovering birds and a beautiful steady shot of a local swimming hole somewhere in what I imagined to be a small village in rural France.

It was great to see him do his thing live. Using his computer, a mixing tablet, two glasses of water, two drum cymbals, chimes, and the twin brothers on strings and keys, Jules was able to create a stirring live rendition of his work. Overall, his performance was the highlight of the festival for me, and further proof as to why I think he’s one of the best musicians in the genre.

Unfortunately, the rain stopped me from going to see him play at the Picnic Electronik under his dub-oriented krill.minima guise, but still a great time was had. Check out the remastered version of his first album Yara right now.


February 25, 2010

Inaudible teamed up with Headphone Commute and scored an interview with Kompakt Records founder and electronic music legend Wolfgang Voigt to discuss Kompakt’s latest Pop Ambient collection, the infamous Cologne sound, and his work as Gas!

I am new to this whole interview thang, and realized afterwards that my questions kind of suck because they don’t allow room for much elaboration, but hey . . . I’m learning and still pretty damn happy with it.

Please click here to check it out.

Big thanks to ML from Headphone Commute for making it happen!

And thanks to Mr. Voigt for taking the time to answer the questions!