I realize MUTEK is about pushing the limits of music and technology and especially exploring experimental music and visuals. HOWEVER, let’s agree that there is music and there is noise. Music has some method even in its madness. The language itself is comprised of a system of notes and is in many ways very mathematical. Musical instruments have been designed around this system for centuries, enabling people to play all sorts of music around the globe which still does not deviate from the basic relationship between Pitch and Frequency. When talking about music, there is something else to consider as well: the speakers and equalizers. The machines needed to transmit the audio, in this case where the speakers needed to resonate throughout the St-James church in downtown Montreal and equalizers and amplifiers needed to transmit the electric instruments.

The first show I saw was music. Les momies de Palerme. It was great music. It was experimental but there was a definite structure and it was part of the music language. These 2 girls were perfectly timed to the amazing visuals that appeared magically all over the church’s new Gothic interior. At times there was a distorted electric violin immersing the room with a haunting and charming lullaby to snow like light effects on the dark arches above. Other times more electronic beats and trippy patterns on the stage itself.

The second show I saw was noise. Tim Hecker and Stephen O’Malley  there is no reason that an audio visual display should require hearing protection… (and might I add required the ear plugs offered). This was the first sign this duo was going to be loud and pretentious. The church itself is not so enormous that the sound needed to be over amplified.

The instruments were synthesizers and what I believe was a bass but it was very dark. Neither instrument was producing anything resembling music. Most of the sounds were blasted past the equalizer’s potential for emitting music and even then, the raw likely sounded like a cross between the inside of a tornado and pots and pan student protest. Lots of bangs, loud windy hisses and ear numbing metallic sounds of a bass gone wrong.

One could argue that in noise lives music.  Have you ever heard the sound of a train slowly stopping on an old un-greased track or the wind’s howl? Just because you can find notes in common noises does not make it music.  One may say I am just not deep enough to get it or not familiar with experimental music but sadly, I grew up with 2 artists (mother and brother) and my sister-in-law was in a very experimental band for years. I am all for creating new musical sources, make a band out of blowing in empty Perrier bottles or record dogs barking different octaves for all I care but unless you are producing music… well please call it noise.

You can be the judge!