Two weekends ago we witnessed the 8th edition of the Spanish version of Mutek, the prestigious festival born in Montreal. Here’s how it felt.
Mutek ES is usually winter’s most important electronic music event in Barcelona, and so it was this time, even though it seems to be more compact each year. They didn’t have some of the classic stages, like the Barts theater or the San Agustí Convent, the main event at the beer factory was only one day, and in Nitsa Club (Apollo) they only took over the main stage.
But it’s better to talk about the things that actually happened this year. 5000 people witnessed a 3-day event that hosted performances of more than 30 artists coming from 10 different countries. This time the local artists, and also the women behind decks or on stage, were more numerous than ever.
First thing we saw was the Pyr To Pyr installation from the French artist Minuit Une, at the Mazda Space, the headquarters of the festival. There you could just lay down on one of the many carpets on the floor and submerge into their immersive laser and sound experience, though we preferred the way the whole setup looked from the outside. This installation was free to the public the first two days of the event.
On Thursday night the A/V Visions took place at the French Institute, hosting the Italian-Belgian duo of Michela Pelusio & Glenn Vervliet, presenting their work ‘SpaceTime Helix’, and the French duo 1024 Architecture, with their work ‘Recession’.
A/V Visions is often where the most commented shows happen, emphasising the audiovisual acts of the festival, and it usually never fails. That’s how we lived the debut of SpaceTime Helix in Spain. A kinetic sculpture of light and sound. Created by the Italian Michela Pelusio, it uses opto-acoustic instruments to develop an audiovisual exploration of quantum physics concepts. Dazzling.
1024 Architecture closed on Thursday, and similar to the first show of the night seemed to be futuristic, the French duo turned itself a bit more retro. Behind a giant screen, they realized a mix between noise and breakbeats, with visuals that seemed to come from the demoscene, more than 25 years ago. The whole thing was a new critique to capitalism and consumer societies, which is something they have been doing for the past few years. The show also included them rapping in English.
On Friday the talks, showcases and workshops continued at the event’s headquarters, and the first night at Nitsa club took place, hosting the English Demdike Stare, Italian Vaghe Stelle and the North American Avalon Emerson.
The most important journey of Mutek is the day event that takes place at the old beer factory, there we could find conferences, digimarkets, exhibitions, installations, performances, and beer. We saw the amazing installation Pentatonix, a musical instrument of light and sound created by the Spanish Light Notes, and also some shows at the Machine Room of the factory.
Our highlight of the whole event was the Swedish Klara Lewis, new star of Editions Mego, who made the most interesting mix of the festival to our ears. Going through her own productions and visuals, she went generating musicality starting from absolute noise and drifting to the deepest nostalgia. Visuals were hints of the sound sources used for the songs, there were scenes of the classic movie Being There, and also Notting Hill.
Next came the experimental German duo Driftmachine, with their set using pure hardware, going through ambient to dub techno. And the closing came by the hands of the Swiss with Tibetan roots Aisha Devi, formerly known as Kate Wax. We stay with her previous alias.
The cherry on top was Saturday night at Nitsa. The Spanish Marc Piñol proved that he never fails when appearing at international festivals, this time opening for Actress. The Catalan artist went through an expecting and calm vibe while Nitsa was still not full.
Actress provided everything else we came to look for. Going through diverse BPM’s he knew how to touch the knobs from lo-fi house to drum&bass. Making you dance and trip from time to time, he did his own thing regardless of where he was playing. Either way, to listen to just techno we already had the Icelandic Bjarki or the Russian Dasha Rush. Next day news came that a new album from Actress is just about to hit the streets, and it seems to be quite ambitious. If there was something that his mix didn’t lack, it was ambition.
Even though it’s always announced with anticipation, Mutek always arrives suddenly, always on the first warm days of the year, and on the weeks that the whole calendar of events for the summer is taking shape. So taking this as a season start, Mutek always sets the bar high.