Montreal's preeminent international electronic music festival, MUTEK, is turning 15 this year, and true to its reputation for embracing the unconventional, the milestone is being celebrated with a confusing name change to EM15.
The new name EM15, actually makes sense when you consider MUTEK is merging with Elektra, a Montreal digital arts festival that just happens to also be hitting the 15-year mark. For the music lovers, though, it will be business as usual, except the festival will not be presenting any of their EM15 By Night shows within the familiar confines of the SAT.
Instead, the Nocturne shows will be held in the hi-tech nooks and crannies of the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (MACM). The immersive spaces there are no strangers to shows, so even though it will feel a little strange to not alternate between the Metropolis and SAT, spending six nights at the museum promises to be an enlivening experience.
EM15 kicks off on Tuesday, May 27, with Tim Hecker's Fog Works. Montreal’'s drone king will do what he does best: submerge your senses while in pitch black darkness. Also at the MACM, New York retro-futurist Oneohtrix Point Never and To Rococo Rot’s Robert Lippok are on the same Ouverture Mac: Totally Tubular bill.
The first Nocturne show of EM15 is on Wednesday, May 28, starring sonically peripatetic Torontonian Egyptrixx and British producer Shackleton in different rooms within the MACM. Earlier in the evening, there’s the first A/Visions audiovisual presentation, with Nonotak, Nicolas Bernier & Martin Messier and Mantra Percussion.
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The following night, Windsor-raised, Detroit techno pioneer Richie Hawtin will be bringing his multi-room, music, technology and sake bar production ENTER to Metropolis. He also handpicked the musical acts for the night, including the classic analog gear loving TM404 from Sweden. Over at the MACM, Ben Frost will be presenting his new album, A U R O R A, along with digital-human line blurring composer Holly Herndon and studio guru Rashad Becker. You can also see Herndon in conversation on Friday afternoon as part of EM15's free By Day lineup.
On Friday, May 30, genre hopping American producer Matthew Dear will be at Metropolis under his Audion techno alter ego, along with Italy's Voices from the Lake and with Brit Max Cooper. That bill promises to be a euphoric marathon dance session. For something a little more afrobeat on Friday, the Durian Brothers will be at MACM.
MUTEK favourite Ricardo Villalobos returns with two shows this year: one at Metropolis on Saturday with the very chilled out Dutch producer Tom Trago, Montreal’s Iron Galaxy and more, as well as a collaborative set two nights before with Max Loderbauer, who he teamed up with to release Re: ECM in 2009.
Saturday’s Nocturne aims to be the most sub heavy show of the festival, with dubstep antecedents Fluxion and Pinch, along with Canadian Segue and drum ‘n bass revivalist Lee Bannon.
Nicolas Jaar, who was in Montreal earlier this year for his Darkside project, returns to cap off EM15 with a solo improv set called "Scratch." Also on Sunday, MUTEK will be hitting the metro to Parc Jean-Drapeau to take over weekly summertime institution Piknic Electronik. Donato Dozzy, Move D and Harmonious Thelonious are set to perform under the sun.