DESIGNER_MIX @ Society for Arts and Technology | 10pm
Designer_Mix: This free showcase with a loose theme ended up being one of the sure highlights of Mutek 2011. Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Montreal were the first three cities to be named UNESCO Cities of Design in 2005 and 2006. This amazing showcase was co-presented with special help from Ville de Montréal’s Bureau du Design and was designed to demonstrate the relationship between these three great cities. What exactly the nature of that relationship is, I’m still not too clear on, but certainly they all create interesting and innovative electronic music as well.
Directly across the street was Place de la Paix, where the Experience sets took place, as well as the Windows tent, showcasing Windows-based music production applications. Most interestingly, and under-publicized, was the Food Lab, in which different chefs were invited each night to design plates that embody Mutek’s (and Montreal’s) commitment to quality design.
Sol del Rio hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and her debut set here, “MonsterShine,” adeptly fused visuals and sound. It was a pleasure to see a woman behind the knobs finally, and her atmospheric vocals enhanced the effect. From what I gather it is the project of one woman who utilizes live visual VJ tools and integrates the experience fully with her chilled out beats and sustained lovely vocal parts. Deadbeat, a local producer who’s been releasing music for over a decade on labels including Pole’s ~scrape imprint, turned up the energy a bit, including live visuals from Berlin’s Lillevan, a video artist who has often collaborated with Vladislav Delay. Creative beats and bass with dub production techniques drew a clear lineage with Pole, one of the artists who along with Basic Channel‘s Chain Reaction label crafted minimalist dub-inspired techno in Berlin during the late ’90s. His first trilogy, simply titled 1 2 and 3, has recently been rereleased by Macro, solidifying his place in the canon. Since Mutek + Saturday night = Party, Pole’s dancier beat-heavy side of his compositions were more pronounced. The basslines on which his reputation was founded did not disappoint. It’s not hard to picture him in his other role of sometime reggae DJ. Though his primary instrument is a mixing board, it is certainly instrumentalized, and nothing demonstrates this more clearly than watching the man work. The crowd responded in kind, but amped it up even further for Chancha Via Circuito, who was joined by fellow Argentinean Sol del Rio for some cumbia digital. Cumbia is a style of music from Colombia that fused Colombia’s various traditions into a hybrid style that is uniquely their own, becoming popular in the mainstream throughout the first part of the 20th century. The beat is much easier to dance to then Salsa or other popular genres in Latin America, and popular local varieties such as Peru’s Chicha are just as vibrant. Chancha Via Circuito roughly translates to, in my estimation, “f*cked by circuitry,” and hey, why not? It was only a matter of time until clever producers introduced their native beats into international forms, and digital cumbia certainly gestures towards reggaeton, hip-hop and electronic music. Groups like Colombia’s BOMBA ESTÉREO have been perfecting the form for over a decade and have been received praise (and touring) in North America. A central member of Buenos Aires’ ZZK Collective, Pedro Canale began DJing at Buenos Aires’ Zizek club, (surely named after Slovenian gadfly and unlikely celebrity philoosphy professor, psychoanalyst bad boy Slavoj Zizek) and released many volumes of well-received mixtapes that have helped popularize digital cumbia abroad as well, and more importantly showcasing Latin American musics and talents. After a successful tour of the States last year, his Mutek performance was highly enjoyable, nodding towards local styles, while continuing the evolution of the evening.
These sorts of rhythmic explorations and hybrid influences will continue to be what drives electronic music into the future. Though many producers are looking back to house, and dub-step has gone completely mainstream, (and both developments that have produced some great music), mixes like Chancha Via Circuito’s XLR8R podcast are likely to be more influential on the future of electronic dance music.
The short film by Vincent Moon, everyone’s new favorite music documentary producer, will show just what is so interesting about the Zizek Collective and the scene in BA.