Photos: Landon Speers // Words: Jesse Locke
With the milestone of a 10th anniversary notched on its belt after last year’s festival, MUTEK 2010 set out to expand audiences even further while maintaining its status as the cutting edge of electronic music. On top of an inaugural free outdoor concert, this year’s programming included a widely diverse lineup ranging from recognizable names to newcomers to notorious luminaries of the subterranean.
Local duo Bernier + Messier provided a stunning opening night surprise with the clanging industrial abstractions of their custom-built intonarumori. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this pair.
Matmos showcased a set of kosmiche Krautrock-inspired epics from their upcoming album, while also offering some welcome levity. The back-and-forth banter between M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel was unarguably lovable, but it was the squeaky toy sound effects, droll facial expressions and Daniel’s revealing of a t-shirt from German thrash metal band Sodom that brought down the house.
Wednesday’s A/Visions event was closed out by Canadian duo [The User] with their “Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers,” a meticulously orchestrated score created from a stage full of outmoded office machines and the squeals of ASCII text files.
Highlights were spread across all four nights, with Ben Frost’s earth (and ear) scorching doom drones, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio’s hypnotic whirls, clicks and bleeps, and Jon Hopkins’ visceral firestorm of glitch quite possibly stealing the whole fest.
While it may have been unclear just how firmly Uwe Schmidt's tongue was wedged in cheek with his Señor Coconut project, the brassy big band’s cha-cha cover versions of Kraftwerk and assorted classic rock staples maintained an element of arch conceptualism alongside the cheese. Either way, the crowd ate it up.
The highly anticipated Canadian premier of dark ambient iconoclasts Nurse With Wound offered a veritable Cliff’s Notes for the band’s three decade-spanning back catalogue. Throughout a satisfyingly lengthy set, NWW gave up everything from distorted guitar rock to operatic female vocals, with founding member Stephen Stapleton finally stalking the stage for a delirious rant.
Mouse on Mars, Theo Parish, Ikonika and the South American Cómeme Collective all stretched dance floor-filling sets into the wee hours, proving MUTEK can be equal parts cerebral and fun. All in all, a success for the chin strokers and rump shakers alike.
Paradise by the dismal light
Words and photos by Landon Speers
A week before Christmas I packed everything I hadn't purged myself of and headed east from Edmonton. About 56 hours hours later I pulled up to my new home in Toronto's Koreatown. The smell of mysterious meats and Bulgoki sauce wafted down the snowless streets as I unloaded the contents of my car/life onto the sidewalk and then up three flights of stairs. Had I just found paradise?
Unfortunately not, as I found out the toilet fully flushed only once every three tries, the shower was broken and I bathed like the bucket kids in those UNICEF commercials you see at Christmas. Our kitchen was so awful you'd think an opening scene of CSI had been shot in it. Either way I'm here now, and the following are a selection of photographs I took over my first month here.
The following three were taken during a four hour hike along train tracks through central Toronto. The day was dismal, cold and grey, which actually heightened the sense of adventure and nostalgia.
Mar's is an old diner that opened up downtown in 1951. I was supposed to meet a friend here for breakfast and I'd barely sat down and shot this before he barged in and dragged me across the street to cheaper eats.
There's something about shooting at night that just FEELS different. Everything that is familiar during the day changes and takes on new qualities. Special note: The street shot is a long exposure featuring a friend (oblivious to my taking a photo for some reason) chasing a racoon throughout the frame.
The fact that people living in the direct vicinity leave their children's toys at the playground made for an unusually strange scene at night as the desolation of a place oft filled with kids going bananas was damp, cold and silent.
I stumbled upon a young girl practicing her spells at Hogwarts… which happens to be part of U of T, I guess.
Self-portrait with room mates.
Wyrd Fest 2009
Intro and photos by Landon Speers
One could say that November 14th, 2009 was the day fate chose for Edmonton’s first Wyrd Fest. A tumorous growth of passion from Weird Canada’s Aaron Levin, the night featured 18 artists on two stages that represent a portion of Canadian fringe music. Made possible by a host of volunteers, the festival sought to showcase what you’ll find when you look past the radio charts and music videos — a new place where things can be exciting and fresh again, like the first time you saw a model volcano at the science fair. The following photos offer a sampling of the night’s Albertan contingent.
Moby Dicks (Lethbridge)
Myelin Sheaths (Lethbridge)
GOBBLE GOBBLE (Edmonton)
MUTEK_10: RETROSPECTIVE PHOTOSPREAD
Words: Cecil Frena // Photos: Landon Speers
This past June 2009, aficionados of cutting edge electronic music the world over converged on Montreal for an epochal event: the 10th anniversary of the renowned MUTEK festival. Known as an international rendezvous point for artists, critics, and tastemakers of the electronic avant garde, this year was especially significant as the anniversary celebrations called for additional programming and a lineup packed to the hilt with luminaries. Indeed, more than any other edition of MUTEK, the legendary figures who helped to found and shape the seminal micro-genres of electronic music were present in full effect for MUTEK_10. What follows is a spread of work at the festival captured by photographer Landon Speers. I have endeavored to provide a brief description of each of the acts depicted; by no means is it an exhaustive survey of the incredible breadth and depth of MUTEK's 2009 programming.
The Fun Years shuddered and skipped through the ashes of a city with their gloomy, loop-centric ambient music with visuals from Justin Manor.
Montreal's mad scientist of the turntable Martin Tetreault collaborated to disconcertingly (and cathartically) jittery effect with legendary Voivod drummer Langevin.
Lusine submerged Metropolis' upper room in the day-glo gauze of his bubbling soundscapes.
Aun, visually fortified by de.i.te, broke out his trademark pink violin (visible above) and blasted sheets of distortion over the room.
Deadbeat cleared sinuses on the dancefloor with his inconsiderately massive basslines, and his electric stage presence kept bodies moving after the blow.
Wolfgang Voigt opened the festival, performing his legendary Gas, with visuals by Petra Hollenbach, reminding us of the genesis of ambient and minimal electronic music, and pointing the way forward.
Byetone's innocuous appearance is surely a front for his impossibly precise, sonically perfect blasts of sculpted, angular "dance" music.
Carsten Nicolai's triumphant performance as Alva Noto in many respects constituted a high watermark of the festival, as the writhing demon pope of minimal glitch once again made imitation seem an impossible feat. A devastating set.