MUTEK comes to Dubai: electronic music from left field

The long-running Montreal-based electronic music festival MUTEK is coming to Dubai, and the organisers are promising that the three-day event on 16-18 November will be “a gathering unlike anything audiences in the Middle East have previously experienced”.

Combining live contemporary electronic music with cutting-edge digital visuals, MUTEK should appeal to tech enthusiasts and art lovers as much as fans of left-field music. This is not a conventional music festival; along with the stage performances there will be interactive audio visual shows, discussions, workshops, and “many networking opportunities”.

Dasha Rush at MUTEK 2016

MUTEK describes itself as “a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the dissemination and development of digital creativity in sound, music, and audio-visual art” – which makes it a rarity among music festivals. It’s mandate is “to provide a platform for the most original and visionary artists currently working in their fields, with the intent of providing an outlet of initiation and discovery for the audiences we seek to develop”.

MUTEK began life in Montreal in 2000. More recently it’s been expanding internationally – MUTEK.MX is well established in Mexico, MUTEK.ES has been in Barcelona since 2010, the second MUTEK.JP is happening in Tokyo this November, and there have been intermittent MUTEKs in Chile, Colombia and Argentina, with Buenos Aires rejoining the fold this year.

Mehdi Ansari, co-founder of Analog Room, is behind MUTEK.AE. “We’re bringing MUTEK to Dubai because we see the deep potential and interest from people in enriching the city’s music, art and digital culture, which is still in its early stages,” he said.

“We’d also like to shift the emphasis away from clubbing and partying in Dubai and offer a new perspective on the way electronic music and audiovisual practices can be profound, inspiring and revelatory.

“MUTEK’s format and curatorial philosophy, with its commitments to local artistic communities in every city it exists, intersects perfectly with this mission. It is going to challenge and inspire them to join this global community with a statement.”

He intends that MUTEK’s programing will present most elements of digital creativity and electronic music – “such as audio visuals, DiGi_Labs, master-classes and live performances, creating a full and unique experience”.

Certainly there are some heavy hitters on the bill, both international big names and local rising stars. The three headliners:

Jeff Mills (right), one of the biggest American names in techno alongside the likes of along with Robert Hood, Joey Beltram and Carl Craig, famed for his stripped-down DJ sets.

Dasha Rush, an ambitious experimentalist with a dubby but intense, immersive techno sound and a sparkling audio-visual style that has recently produced two mesmerising works with artist Stanislav Glazov: Antarctic Takt, premiered at MUTEK 2015, and her latest project Dark Hearts of Space.

Francesco Tristano, trained as a classical pianist and a cross-genre innovator who among other projects has worked with Carl Craig, project Versus (featuring symphony orchestra and Moritz von Oswald), Freedom Jazz Trio, and the Innerzone Orchestra (as pianist, keyboardist and arranger). He’s a MUTEK regular.

Also appearing Abri & The Dreamfleet (left), something of a UAE supergroup – soul-funk singer Hamdan Al Abri plus electronic music DJ/producers Adriano K (Adriano Konialidis) and Megadon Betamax/Mostyn Mega (Mostyn Rischmueller). This is from their newish album We Fly, which will get a proper release at MUTEK Dubai.

The Flip Side’s Shadi Megallaa and Karim Sultan are launching their new live Magnetic Fossils project (“cassette archaeology”) at MUTEK, too, and others acts listed include the Beirut-based Red Bull Music Academy alumnus ETYEN, new media artist and motion designer Hugues Clément from Montreal, and local club heroes like NasrawiTacit and Telmiz aand Analog Room co-founder/creative director Siamak Amidi (aka Skin) .

This is going to be good, a real alternative to the me-too mainstream club music that is all too prevalent in Dubai – indeed, in the world today.

The main stage is at the W Hotel in Al Habtoor City, a new venue for this kind of gig. Additional workshops, Digi_Labs and panel talks will be taking place at the SAE Institute in Knowledge Village; A/V shows will take place at the Auditorium of Dubai Knowledge Park; and for the final show on the third day, Mutek in collaboration with Groove On The Grass is hosting the Dubai Design Week Closing party at D3.

We have no detail yet on ticket prices, though we understand weekend and three-day passes will range from AED 50 to AED 460; but keep watching the MUTEK.AE Facebook page here and check the PlatinumList page too.

Jeff Mills at Mutek

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