Though MUTEK is over for another year, it is likely to live on in the eyes and ears of everyone who attended the events that stretched from the middle of last week throughout the weekend.
The innovative festival’s roots are planted firmly in Montreal, but each year several international editions are staged in major cities across the globe, including Mexico City, Toyko, and Barcelona.
The festival’s ability to knit together several distinct but closely related art forms — music, visual arts and lately virtual reality and gaming technologies — is its big pull. The promotion of interplay between these strands of digital creativity allows crowds to witness incredible visual displays while they enjoy cutting-edge electronic music. MUTEK promotes both established international artists like Richie Hawtin alongside local up-and-comers, like AAAA and Imaabs. This sharing of the stage produces a strong sense of collaboration and community that trickles down to the welcoming crowds at every event.
The News went along to the festival’s opening gambit, Intorno Labs: 3D Sound, a collaboration between Mexican purveyors of sound Murcof and Eviltapes, hosted by Barcelona-based audio production studio Intorno Labs.
Aptly housed in the Universidad de la Comunicación, this ambient soundscape was the collaboration’s effort to create a truly multidimensional experience through sound alone. Citing the limited two-channel audio output prevalent in most gig venues and concert halls as the determining factor in people’s underwhelming auditory experiences, the group wanted to exhibit the power of sonic possibilities. With a 24 channel sound system and a series of looped samples, the group lumped layer upon layer of noise across the speakers to create a soundscape so rich that it almost seemed physical — it was a surprise not be able to reach out and touch it.
The strength of the feeling produced was extraordinary. The arrangement of speakers, encircling the crowd, was worked beautifully into the auditory process, as the sound ebbed and flowed pulling the crowd to sway with it. At one point there was the feeling of being sat in a centrifuge and being spun about wildly, such was the physical effect. Certainly unlike any other concert hall.
MUTEK’s trail-blazing will continue next year, though dates are yet to be confirmed.