Montreal electronic music festival MUTEK is about to kick off its 17th year, taking over various venues around the city from June 1-5. The thoughtfully curated program spans from interdisciplinary experimental work to late-night sets of banging minimal techno. During the day, you'll also be able to catch panel talks from many of the participating artists.
To help you prepare for the festival, we made a list of ten acts you absolutely shouldn't miss, with an accompanying Apple Music playlist of their choice cuts. Also don't forget about THUMP's MUTEK showcase June 2 at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), featuring performances by Tim Hecker, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Lorenzo Senni, and more.
1. Essaie Pas
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Why: The husband-and-wife duo's excellent new album on DFA Records, Demain Est Une Autre Nuit, found them focussing more on the club-friendly side of their dark techno pop. Expect a minimalist take on moody, atmospheric new wave.
When: June 4 at 9:30 PM (MAC Main Room), Q&A June 3 at 1:30 PM (Phi Centre)
2. Frits Wentink
Hometown: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Why: His sample collage productions evoke the dusty grooves of vintage Detroit house, carefully balancing his melodic sensibilities with a gritty rawness. He'll be making his North American live debut at MUTEK.
When: June 2 at 7:45 PM (Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles), June 5 at 12:10 AM (MAC Main Room)
Hometown: Gary, Indiana
Why: Her sound comes from the footwork scene, but her approach to the genre leans heavily on the more experimental end of the spectrum. The producer's emotionally intense productions push against the boundaries of club music, and there's a good reason she's showing up on every festival bill.
When: June 3 at 12:40 AM (MAC Main Room), June 4 at 9:15 PM (Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles)
4. Kara-Lis Coverdale
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Why: Her 2015 MUTEK performance was a festival highlight for many, and she'll be unveiling a whole new live set this year. Coverdale's improvisation-heavy shows combine droning electronic textures with pipe organ and piano, and when she's not making experimental music, she's got a day job as a church organist.
When: June 2 at 10:25 PM (MAC Main Room), panel June 4 at 1 PM (Phi Centre)
5. Midnight Operator
Hometown: Berlin, Germany (originally from Victoria, British Columbia)
Why: Brothers Nathan and Mathew Jonson both have strong careers outside of their Midnight Operator project, with Mathew best known for his work with Cobblestone Jazz and Nathan as Hrdvsion. Together, they blur the lines between raw techno and leftfield house.
When: June 1 at 12:45 AM (MAC BWR Room)
6. Moritz von Oswald
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Why: As half of Basic Channel, von Oswald helped define minimal dub techno, and his influence on the genre can't be overstated. He's also an extremely eclectic and adventurous producer, who is just as likely to reference reggae as he is jazz.
When: June 1 at 11:50 PM (MAC Main Room)
Hometown: Los Angeles, California (originally from Eden, North Carolina)
Why: The genre-bending producer has found inspiration in footwork, jungle, hip-hop, and house, and has collaborated with Azealia Banks, Jimmy Edgar, Kelis, and more. Check out his Saturday afternoon outdoor set and get your weekend started right.
When: June 4 at 3 PM (Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles).
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario
Why: Christina Sealey and Richard Oddie spent much of the last 20 years on the periphery between the techno and industrial worlds, but in more recent years have made some major inroads into the former, resulting in live performances at Berlin institutions like Berghain and Tresor.
When: June 3 at 10 PM (Métropolis), panel June 4 at 2 PM (Phi Centre)
9. Project Pablo
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec (originally from Vancouver, British Columbia)
Why: His chilled out, west coast deep house vibes have become a bit edgier since relocating to Montreal, and recently contributed the first release on the new Arbutus Records offshoot SOBO. His performances often find him laying down some tasty live keyboards over shuffling house rhythms.
When: June 5 at 11:25 PM (MAC BWR Room)
10. Tim Hecker
Hometown: Los Angeles, California (originally from Montreal, Quebec)
Why: His noisy ambient recordings have received considerable critical acclaim over the years—including his latest album Love Streams—but his performances take the sensory immersion to a whole new level. He's played with fog and scents in previous shows, and this time around the MUTEK veteran will be blasting the audience with bursts of light from LEDs.
When: June 2 at 12:15 AM (MAC Main Room)
Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.