Another year, another step towards the establishment of Mutek.Mx as a major meeting place for both creators and fans of digital art and its numerous disciplines. For almost a whole week, Mexico City lived and breathed electronic music culture through the sprawling events and activities the now international festival had to offer.
The inclusion of big-name headliners like techno legend Richie Hawtin, Planet Mu head honcho Mike Paradinas, (aka µ-Ziq), and The Field was probably enough to ensure a successful edition of the festival, but Mutek.Mx always goes the extra mile, offering audiences an experience far beyond the average live music performance. Workshops, lectures, conferences, and demos took over Universidad de la Comunicación, with a special focus on the exploration of virtual reality as a creative tool. The permanent VR Salon space, which was moved to the Tamayo Museum for the weekend, presented a selection of immersive pieces wonderfully curated by Kaleidoscope. Barcelona studio Intorno Labs presented a different kind of concert, tapping Mexican artists Murcof, Eviltapes, and Osday to perform pieces on a state-of-the-art 3-D sound system, expanding the aural experience to a new dimension.
The last-minute cancellation of the Foro Normandie venue was a blessing in disguise, since the festival ended up setting up camp at the haunting Casino Metropolitano. For two days, attendees were treated to outstanding Latinx talent, including a dancefloor-filling audiovisual show from Nicola Cruz and Fidel Eljuri, Guadalajara’s Cyané in full electronic mode, AAAA‘s refreshingly dynamic set, and ALIAS616’s modular synth-fueled party.
Mutek.Mx returned to the Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos on Friday and Saturday, where festivalgoers were welcomed by an intricate stage design and a remodeled Sala C stage, which felt more adequate for the experimental nature of the acts it hosted. Unfortunately, the narrow and crowded venue entrance created a bottleneck, costing us performances from Murcof, Driftmachine, and others. On the other hand, the Sala A and B stages were open and easily accessible.
On Friday, local breakout duo Damaja Rainbow repped for the edgier corners of the dancefloor, alongside grime producer Rabit and Chilean alchemist Imaabs. The latter tore up the club with a new live set comprised almost exclusively of his own original tracks. Shitshuyume (or 失夢) and Kara Lewis brought emotion to the stage while Holly Herndon’s abstract vocals and mind-warping visuals won the night, granting her what may have been the loudest cheers of the entire festival. On Saturday, a mellow set from Gaspar Peralta – who performed with Rhodes and electronic hardware with swooning effects – offered a welcome contrast to RRose’s dark techno blowout and the frenetic energy of Peder Mannerfelt’s set. Myriam Bleau deserves a special shout out for her fantastic Soft Revolvers performance piece. Finally, Sunday brought the liveliest sets of the week, courtesy of Borchi y su Doble Redoble and Débruit.
Considering the proliferation of festival culture in Mexico in recent years, Mutek.Mx continues to spearhead the local scene’s engagement with electronic music and digital technology in refreshing and comprehensive ways. The festival is tailor-made for those who demand more from an electronic music experience, beyond the passive artist-audience relationship and a standard 4/4 techno beat.