MUTEK San Francisco 2019: Preview

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story /  Anastassia Voitinskaia

Hot on the heels of an inaugural edition that brought techno pioneer Derrick May, legendary electro outfit Aux88, and noise-industrial dungeon masters Orphx to the Bay Area, MUTEK returns for a second SF-based celebration of boundary-pushing electronic music and art.  
To those already deep in the MUTEK loop: welcome back, and see you on the dance floor.
For the uninitiated: MUTEK acts as a spotlight for the digital arts, honing in on the lattice points where music, art, and technology intersect. Every year, in Montreal, Mexico, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Tokyo, and (most recently) San Francisco, the festival brings together avant-garde musicians and digital artists for an immersive audiovisual feast.
In short, there will be techno, there will be noise, there will be white, white light.
MUTEK SF 2019 builds on last year’s US debut with a thoughtfully-curated lineup of electronic musicians and visual artists, running the gamut from up-and-coming to established, local to international, ambient to full-throttle dance – all with an emphasis on the cutting-edge.
Detroit, as it should, features heavily in this year’s lineup – techno luminary Gerald Donald (of Drexciya fame) will be doing double-duty as Dopplereffekt and as his lesser-known alias Arpanet, while ever-evolving techno duo Ectomorph is sure to stun gearheads with an improvisational, all-analog set.
If their Dekmantel 2018 set was any indication, the live collaborative duo (Aurora) Halal and Relaxer is a must-see for anyone seeking out dark, hypnotic live hardware at its finest. On the same bill is soundscape master Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement (a.k.a. Vatican Shadow), a project equal parts ambient and caustic, with track names appropriately ranging from “Madagascar Colossal Shrimp” to “Demons Tour the Canal”. On the other side of the coin, Echo Beach’s haunting sound collage is a necessary listening experience for anyone interested in exploring the gentler, atmospheric side of electronics.
Genre-bending and brain chemistry-altering live electronics are a centerpiece of MUTEK, and this edition serves up plenty—courtesy of not-to-be-missed live sets from Dutch electronic madcap Legowelt, Bay Area locals Abandoned Footwear, and master of freeform electronics Solpara (NYC).
Hyperdub label boss Kode9 will present a brand-new performance piece inspired by Japanese video game music, with famed animator Koji Morimoto (Akira, Kiki’s Delivery Service) providing his signature sci-fi/cyberpunk visuals to complete the experience.
Montreal-based collective will showcase their piece Indivisible in a full-dome planetarium – the perfect home for a prophetic audiovisual landscape that highlights the collective’s interdisciplinary talents and ability to create unique digital worlds.
For those who like their beats broken and their jams to come with a touch of sly marketing (remember PC music and “Hey QT”?), we have Revlux, the world’s biggest and most influential lifestyle brand – complete with a music subdivision, of course, that provides the brand’s subscribers with airborne club music imbued with pop sensibilities.
Rounding out the lineup is a DJ set from SF scene stalwart Michael Claus, plus a special B2B from Mozhgan and Josh Cheon.
The minds behind the music converge at Digi Lab, a free daytime series of talks, panels, and presentations that include FACT’s famous Against the Clock, where experimental composer Kelly Moran and house/techno producer Sepehr will create a track on-the-fly in front of a live audience – in ten minutes or less.
MUTEK is the only festival of its kind in the US – a chance to your feast eyes and ears on the most groundbreaking creations in digital art and live electronics today. Come and peer over the edge.


See the full lineup on MUTEK’s official site.


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