AVANT_MUTEK featuring AKUFEN, JETONE, CRACKHAUS, REPAIR, PAN/TONE, FAIRMONT and DJ IAN GUTHRIE at 457 Richmond West, Saturday (April 27). $15 advance, $20 at the door. www.techno.ca, www.mutek.ca Rating: NNNNN
A buzz has been growing for a couple of years about Montreal's exploding minimal techno scene.
While Montreal's more tied to the avant-garde music community than Toronto is, it's also known for its appreciation of a good party.
One of the main reasons that the world has suddenly discovered our sister city's bleep crowd is the annual MUTEK series, an electronic version of the jazz festival, which is entering its third year May 29.
"Cinema has a festival, theatre has one, dance has one, but there aren't many places that have an electronic music festival," says Alain Mongeau, the festival's director and founder.
"The idea was to take the know-how we had developed through the Festival of New Cinema and New Media and apply it to sound."
In an effort to reach out to Toronto's community of producers and to acknowledge the cross-pollination between the scenes, MUTEK presents a one-night summit here featuring some of the best of both scenes. The event promises to be a unique experience, focusing on live performers instead of DJs and featuring projections by Crevice.ca.
One of the most exciting names to come out of Montreal is Marc Leclair, aka Akufen. He's part of that rare breed of minimal techno artists who have quit their day jobs and survive on their music. Leclair has been recording for the top German and Canadian labels as well as performing live all over Europe.
Akufen, a name derived from the French word for ringing ears, is the moniker he uses for his spastic but funky cut-ups of noise and music.
"I sample hours of radio airwaves every morning and dissect fractions of it to a point where samples aren't recognizable," Leclair reveals from his studio.
"Then I assemble all the bits, like a puzzle or a collage. My approach is inspired by the Surrealists' techniques and the French Canadian Automatistes like painter Jean-Paul Riopelle and writer Claude Gauvreau. I like the error margin and the unexpected factor, which creates something that makes a lot of sense subconsciously."
Leclair began his performing career at the age of four, playing the organ at his local mall. His mother could never have guessed that those recitals would end with his making glitch techno 30 years later.
"I was originally performing as a jazz guitarist in a trio, playing the piano occasionally. I had a very good ear and a sharp curiosity. My first true contact ever with electronic music was when I was 12, when I heard Kraftwerk's Mensh-Maschine. I was blown away.
"But I remained a band musician until the age of 16, always searching and trying to push the boundaries of my personal musical language.
"I was in my 16th year, so it was almost 20 years ago when I decided to trade piano and guitar for an analog sequencer and a duophonic Roland SH-7 synthesizer."