Tuesday, June 02, 2009

MUTEK revisited (V)

MUTEK10 wrapped up on the weekend, but I've still got one show left in my queue:

9. Matthew Dear

May 30, 2003:"Then Matthew Dear seems to double the volume, get darker and wildly nastier, while the beats come full circle to take on the role of full body massage."

This set, which at the time fit comfortably into the sound of Montreal's then red-hot microhouse scene, was recorded during Dear's time working under the False moniker for M_nus. He's more of a follower than a leader here (albeit a very talented follower), and it's simply amazing to think about how much better his music became when he started pushing the boundaries of the genres he dabbled in, rather than trying to comfortably slot himself within those boundaries (as he's doing here). The first half of the set is exuberantly dancefloor friendly, but the second half is darker and more sinister. It's a small jump from the first half to "Leave Luck to Heaven"'s strange combination of microhouse bounciness and bored vocals, but thankfully he stayed clear of that path in favour of the second half's more twisted, destructive side, which foreshadows a) the twisted, hypersexual sneer of Audion, b) the Bowie-esque dark pop of "Asa Breed", and c) Richie Hawtin's set that immediately followed.

It's a shame that we'll never get to hear Hawtin's jaw-dropping set from that night -- he was the only artist who forbade recording and streaming of his performance that year, citing the need to prevent unreleased material from being widely circulated. Months later, those unreleased tracks made up the bulk of "Closer", which is one of the decade's best albums. Otherwise, I really wish that the rest of MUTEK's complete archives were still accessible, although I can understand why they're not, given MUTEK's and many of the artists' tremendous growth as brands of considerable value (at least, I assume that this a key reason why). I doubt that my top two requests would ever show up on possible future versions of the podcast, since nobody ever talks about these artists anymore, but I'd lop off a toe to hear Mens/Koolwyk from 2002 (skin-flaying bass-heavy techno minimalism with rapid-fire test pattern video images), and especially Philippe Cam from 2001 (one of the most memorable techno gigs I've ever seen, perhaps my all-time top "Ballad of a Thin Man" moment, in fact, something happened that night and I STILL don't understand exactly what it was).

Bonus mini-review! Even though I wasn't there in 2005, I thought I'd cover this one too just because I love the new Moderat album so much (much jealousy toward those who saw them at MUTEK this year):


Left to his own devices (i.e. when not collaborating with other artists), Apparat's music tends to be too trebly, too bright, too reliant on sparkling, looped melodic leads. I mean, ripping off 1996-1999 period Orbital can't be a bad thing, but Orbital always understood the value of pathos, better than just about all of their peers. This set might be lacking in emotional depth, but it makes up for it with it's "perfect execution", to paraphrase the blurb from the podcast. It flows smoothly and brilliantly between euphoric highs and more subtle lows, and decisively nails the big finish with its noisy, chopped up beats. Whew ...

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