Equiknoxx Takes SAT By Storm

Mutek’s strength has always been in its ability to piece together coherent events, where even the most unconventional of artists seem to fit in comfortably between their peers.

August 22 was the opening night of Mutek’s 19th edition. The festival opened at Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) with rhythm-driven hybrid sets from Equiknoxx, Clap! Clap!, and DJ Lag. Each from an entirely different corner of the world (Jamaica, Italy, and South Africa, respectively), the artists’ stylistic differences were evident, yet seemed entirely natural alongside one another. The main floor of the SAT was outfitted with live visuals projected on the concrete walls, friendly “Party Support” staff, and a powerful sound system that prompted the use of earplugs by many.

Photo by Bruno Destombes

The venue was nearly full when Equiknoxx took the stage at 9:50 p.m. It was clear that their performance was the main draw (rarely would dance music enthusiasts arrive so early). The two dancehall producers were joined by a third member of the Equiknoxx Music collective, Shanique Marie, whose playful vocals and witty comments added a welcomed lightness to the otherwise deep and dubbed out beats. The three were all smiles as they cycled through tracks that spanned their discography, never pausing for more than a split second between each one. The crowd seemed most enthralled with the sheer power of the low-end sound resonating through the high-ceilinged space; each kick drum seemed to rattle the subwoofer cabinets and quite literally jiggle the skin on the audience’s cheeks. While the incredibly heavy subs suited the dubbed out aspects of their music, they seemed to overshadow the intricacies in Equiknoxx’s sound design that impressed so many on their 2017 album Colón Man. While a slight adjustment would have pleased the audiophiles in the crowd, their set was otherwise flawless.

The biggest surprise of the night was the entirety of Clap! Clap!’s performance. The lighthearted and bubbly rhythms heard on his Soundcloud page were all but forgotten in favour of thunderous kick drums and cheap melodies, and the live performance seemed to continue on for longer that it needed to. The set’s dependence on theatrical bass drops, combined with eclectic and cartoonish visuals by A/V artist Binocle (pineapples, elephants, floating aliens in yoga po

Photo by Bruno Destombes

ses) made the performance feel like an acid trip to one of the smaller stages at Tomorrowland. While this seemed exciting
for many faithful dancers happily bouncing around towards the front of the crowd, the style of performance was not what most Mutek-goers anticipated. This was apparent by the large number of people gathered towards the back of the venue, using the time to rest their legs or get some fresh air outside. Regardless, the energy that Clap! Clap! exhibited was remarkable. The Italian DJ jumped back and forth during his entire set, screamed during the brief silence before each new beat was introduced and ultimately did everything he could to engage the crowd. Never has anyone so gleefully pounded an AKAI drum machine for an hour straight.

If Clap! Clap!’s performance seemed to dwell on static rhythms for too long, DJ Lag’s music selection did the opposite. The South African dance music specialist shifted through tempos with each track, allowing for a dynamic set that challenged dancers to get creative with their moves. Despite the focus on bass-heavy music, the issues with the sound levels which were apparent in Equiknoxx’s set were absent throughout the entirety of DJ Lag’s hour behind the decks, and it was the complex drum patterns that shone through above all. Lag’s selections were fresh and diverse, and it was hard not to smile when he played out acapellas of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” and Big Shaq’s infamously memeable “Man’s Not Hot” layered over raw, scattered claps.

Admittedly, the first Nocturne (SAT’s eclectic electronic audiovisual shows) of this year did not showcase all that Mutek has to offer — the “wow” factor of past events was not present. Nonetheless, it was a fun and lighthearted party that kicked off the 19th edition of the festival.


Music Quickspins


When Motoko & Myers first began to work on their debut album in an Oakland, California home studio, did they intend on producing what could be an extension to the cult-favourite game Portal 2’s soundtrack? We may never know, but it sure sounds like it. The dub-tinged ambient work is warm and often whimsical, yet at times suggests a sense of unease. This is most apparent on “Sans Time Tone Milk,” where the droning hums of both human and machine are layered beneath scattered drips and unsteady distortion (the darker levels of Portal 2 come to mind). The album is at its most playful on “Super Potato” — a bouncy yet drowsy six minute danceable track. While the album certainly presents a strong sense of cohesion, it feels as though the two producers could have pushed their sound a bit deeper.


Trial Track: “Super Potato”


Music Quickspins

Beauty >> Forward – AtomTM

Beauty >> Forward – AtomTM (Audio Archiv)

Having released music under 72 different aliases (no joke), it really is tricky to keep up with Uwe Schmidt’s output. The Berlin-born producer, label manager and designer and Berghain resident is busier than most, yet manages to release music at an alarming rate. Regardless, the newest album from his AtomTM project, Beauty >> Forward, should not slip under the radar. The nine tracks range from glitchy and abrasive “Phonopollution” to the smooth and dreamy “Petrified Rimshot,” each with nods to the many styles Schmidt has experimented with before— with a particular emphasis on electro and dub techno. While Beauty >> Forward doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, it definitely features a few club-ready stormers that are hard not to move to. Having said that, listen for highlight track “Recycled Term” on a dancefloor near you.

Rating: 7/10

Trial track: “Recycled Term”


September’s Best Electronic Albums

This last month saw a plethora of quality releases ranging from international to local

In a month that saw releases from electronic music heavy-hitters like Bicep, Lunice and Mount Kimbie, it was the lesser anticipated albums that proved superior. Here are the top electronic albums of September 2017.

John T. Gast – INNA BABALON  (Haunter Records)

Originally released in May 2016 on cassette in an outrageously limited run of only 100 copies, INNA BABALON was revived this month in the form of a (slightly less) limited edition run of 300 12-inch vinyl pressings. Trying to pinpoint all the influences on this record is as challenging as obtaining a hard copy. Hints of dub can be made out in tracks like “Babi Calling” and “Surman,” while percussion is forgotten altogether in the nearly neoclassical “Those Secluded Preferences.” Gast’s stuttering drums and distorted synth cuts sound all too natural next to soothing harp cords and warm bongo percussion. Haunter Records has a knack for putting out top-notch experimental works, and INNA BABALON is undoubtedly one of their top releases to date.


Ninos du Brasil – Vida Eterna  (Hospital Productions)
Latin-infused, Euro-style techno from an Italian duo under the name Ninos du Brasil? If that’s a lot to think about, a listen to their newest full-length, Vida Eterna, should clear your thoughts. There’s absolutely nothing complicated about Ninos du Brasil’s pure and rhythmic dance music, making for a relatively calming take on industrial techno. While at times quite dark and haunting, there’s an inherent warmth to the music. This is present in the form of lively ambient layers of rainforest soundscapes and batucada-style vocals and rhythms. Admittedly not the most versatile of albums, each track on Vida Eterna certainly boasts a specific type of dance floor functionality. The album as a whole, though, is singular enough to demand a full listen through. Or two. Or 10.


Steffi – World Of The Waking State (Ostgut Ton)

Panorama Bar resident Steffi took a step away from the dance floor for her latest LP, World of the Waking State. Instead, she sets a new standard for modern IDM production. While staying true to the Ostgut Ton sound, Steffi’s newest work is alive with sounds that seem almost too natural to be produced by her wide array of synthesizers. On “Continuum of the Mind,” deep and distant bassline hits clash with soft and melodic synth waves to create a sense of blissful disconnection, while the electro-infused “Schools of Thought” comes across as driven and full of intent. The album’s ability to create an environment through sound is truly its greatest asset. Each song seems to incorporate visuals of a new, simultaneously natural-yet-robotic ecosystem of sound. Steffi is no stranger to working a Berlin dance floor (look to her Resident Advisor podcasts for evidence), and while any track off World of the Waking State has the potential to move a crowd, the album, as a complete work, is no doubt a contender for electronic album of the year. Needless to say, Steffi has found her sound.


SLEAZY – From Quebec With Love (Tag Out)

A collaborative work from Montrealers Marie Davidson and Ginger Breaker, From Quebec With Love is likely the first dance music record that doubles as “an ode to the rural and suburban Quebec experience,” as stated on the group’s Bandcamp page. The duo dabbles in undeniably Québécois themes, be it through the twisted and panicked chords of the aptly titled “Cauchemar Administratif,” or the complaints of an unsatisfied Montreal party-goer in “Rave Melancholie.” The album peaks at its second-to-last track, “Sex Jam,” a sensual, yet forceful, certified dance floor killer—one that wouldn’t seem out of place whatsoever at a defunct Mile-End basement party. While the grinding synths present throughout the album fall on the more aggressive end of the spectrum, there’s something unquestionably fun about the work as a whole. Most of the fun, however, likely derives from the record’s capacity to relate to Quebec listeners, which is why From Quebec With Love hasn’t exactly been making waves outside of the province.

Honorable Mention: Yves Tumor – Experiencing The Deposit Of Faith (Unreleased)

Although not technically an album, Yves Tumor’s latest collection of songs is a true showing of the Tennessee-born, Turin-based artist’s versatility. From the uncomfortable, distorted noise on “Child of Rage” to a warm and cozy contemporary R&B tune “Anya’s Loop,” Yves Tumor produced a compilation that, if given a proper release, could rival the success of his 2016 experimental masterpiece, Serpent Music.

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