Montréal Québec Canada
Open menu Close menu
July 17, 2023
News List

Tactile music : when the object becomes sound

MUTEK22 MAYSUN credit Myriam Menard 6 compressed

The notion of “electronic music artists making noise by pressing buttons” is a common theme in the collective imagination, with artists depicted hunched over machines and decks. Yet there's no denying the creativity of many performances that combat these prejudices. Making use of electronics makes them no less technically impressive.
The following performances are examples. We invite you to revisit the collective imagination, by discovering the artists in the festival program who convert objects into tools and instruments.

Alessandro Cortini: master of analog

Musician and composer Alessandro Cortini, best known for his work with the band Nine Inch Nails, is an analog enthusiast with a penchant for synthesizers. These electronic instruments, unlike digital synthesizers, are not perfect: “they’re also aged, so there’s an extra factor of variability that might not be present in modern analog just because analog is now based on more stable components" Alessandro Cortini for XLR8R

One of the most striking synthesizers used by Cortini is the Buchla Music Easel, an instrument of modular design that left its mark on the soundscape of the 1970s. It's known for its complexity and ability to produce a wide range of sounds, from delicate textures to deep, powerful drone. In addition to his Buchla, Cortini uses other analog synthesizers and Eurorack modules in his work. These instruments enable him to explore different modulation techniques, sculpt custom waveforms and manipulate sound parameters in real time.

Alessandro Cortini's use of analog equipment goes beyond mere nostalgia. For him, it's a way of exploring the range of sonic possibilities offered by this timeworn technology. The limitations and unique characteristics of analog synthesizers inspire him to push back the limits of his creativity.

A/Visions 1 Friday, July 25, 2023, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts

Open Reel Ensemble: electromagnetic scratch!

Tapping on tape coils unravels Open Reel Ensemble’s cheekiness. This Japanese band, composed of Ei Wada, Haruka Yoshida and Masaru Yoshida, plays with codes and ingeniously associates analog and digital equipment. In a tape recorder, kilometers of pre-recorded tapes scroll by while the band members influence their behavior by stopping and rotating the reels by hand.

ORE 2021 300dpi

"Depending on what you record and how you touch and rotate the reels,” Wada explained, “the playback sound will vary in many ways with different expressions".

Struck, pinched, rubbed, these actions reverberate in real time on the tapes' sound output, creating a DJ-like scratching effect that would be difficult to reproduce with digital tools alone. Open Reel Ensemble likes to produce strange sounds from obsolete technologies. The Japanese musicians connect old tape recorders, televisions sets and fans to modern computers to create music. Combining low-tech, computer-assisted music production (CAM) and percussions, Open Reel Ensemble blurs boundaries and gives new relevance to electronic music.

Nocturne 1 Wednesday, July 23, 2023, Society for Arts and Technology [SAT]

Brett Bolton: A reactive touch

Brett Bolton explores the various phases of matter through the ingenious use of sound and movement. With each precise stroke of the baton on the surface of his instruments, a harmonious fusion of music and visuals unfolds, constantly evolving as matter passes through solid, gaseous, liquid and even plasma states. Through the clever use of projected light, meticulously designed musical instruments and real-time visual software, he transforms once-static physical surfaces into dynamic interactive environments.

Image 6

When Bolton's drumsticks come into contact with the drum surface, a symphony of reactions takes place. Every stroke, every rhythm and every subtle movement is met with an immediate response. Matter dances and transforms, taking on captivating shapes and patterns that reflect the current state of existence. Traditional boundaries are redrawn by this dynamic web of melody and color, captivating and engaging the senses in unison. This ability to harness the potential of technology as a creative tool profoundly transforms artistic expression.

Nocturne 1 Wednesday, July 23, 2023, Society for Arts and Technology [SAT]

Honeydrip : bass culture

With today’s musical culture often focused on artistic persona, Honeydrip weaves a different story. For MUTEK Montreal | Édition 24, she is building her own subwoofers, with the intention to refocus attention on the listening experience, inviting people to concentrate on arising emotions. With King Shadrock, one of Canada's leading reggae artists, as MC, Honeydrip will definitely channel her place in the spotlight towards a unifying experience.

ITW Thumbnail Honeydrip 02

Because, while each piece of music is received differently, the bass delivers the same sensations. And the Montreal DJ and producer has understood this. With the aim of paying homage to dub and reggae, Honeydrip will overdub tracks and vocals live and remix them in her 16-channel mixing console, coupled with a delay and reverb pedal whose effects will recall those of early dub tracks.

And if musically, she will try to get as close as possible to what was and is being done in Jamaica, visually, Honeydrip intends to innovate. Visual artist Emma Forgues will offer a set of video creations that will complete the performance, adding a new psychotropic thickness to it.

Nocturne 4 Friday, August 25, 2023, Society for Arts and Technology [SAT]

Randy’s Calling : from obsolete to resilient

An effects pedal is a small, foot-controlled electronic device used to apply effects to the sound emitted by an amplified musical instrument. Fairfield Circuitry, an electronics company, found itself with a surplus of Randy's Revenge pedals that couldn't be sold due to their excessive noise. Faced with this situation, Simone Provencher, Dana Wiesbrock and Scott Warren decided to create Randy's Calling / L'appel de Randy.

They installed 72 pedals that function like a huge interactive synthesizer. Each contains an oscillator and a filter, which can be controlled by voltage, making them rudimentary synthesizers connected to each other to create complex modulations and varied sonic results. The oscillators are arranged in "units" of four pedals, like simple FM synthesizers analogous to four oscillators, each unit having a unique algorithm.

The pedals, out of tune and out of sync, create unexpected sounds. The experiment reveals that, despite being mass-produced, each pedal has its own sonic identity.

Expérience 6 Sunday, July 27, 2023, Esplanade Tranquille

From amplified instruments to rerouted technologies, MUTEK Montréal's performances offer an expansive sample of current day electronic music practices.

Discover the full program

Words: Grégoire Chevron
English translation: Lola Baraldi

Copy URL to share Copied to clipboard