MUTEK 2023 | Nocturne 3 : upsammy & Jonathan Castro, Nick León, Halina Rice, Quan & DBY

by Alain Brunet

The PAN M 360 team brings you exhaustive coverage of MUTEK Montréal 2023. Here’s a selection of the best sets presented Friday night at the SAT, as part of the Nocturne series.

Crédits photos : Nina Gibelin-Souchon

upsammy & Jonathan Castro

Cabalistic shapes are projected onto screens on plant surfaces. In the middle of it all, a woman, a man. Dutch DJ, producer and multidisciplinary artist upsammy (Thessa Torsing) likes to illustrate extremes: comfort, discomfort, harmonious beauty, desolation. She uses different colors to paint her sound frescoes: processed voices, varied rhythms and tempos, the sounds of water, the sounds of tactile manipulation, melodic-harmonic fragments, a few feverish bursts of beats contrasting with cold, arrhythmic sequences. This approach, illustrated in space by Peruvian artist Jonathan Castro Alejos, a graphic designer by profession and visual artist of the digital universe, is said to be experimental techno and IDM. Perhaps… For our part, this approach has no apparent genre a priori, apart from the use of rhythms drawn from minimal techno and cerebral ambient. What we have here is a composite language with electroacoustic underpinnings that can nevertheless hook the night owl with a few electroshocks that can make him restless.


Nick León

Floridian Nick León is an enthusiast of Latin advances in electronic music, particularly Puerto Rican and Colombian. A psychedelic curve envelops the rhythms, transforming their original identity. Psychedelia and electronica have been going hand in hand for half a century, and here we have a Latin version. Reggaeton, afrobeats, cumbia, krautrock and ambient come together live. Just enough groove for a Friday, just enough nourishment for a set worthy of MUTEK. From a partner at his side, top-notch projections back it all up, moving jewel patterns, shimmers, stylized kaleidoscopes and more. Listening to this utterly conclusive set, it’s interesting to note that reggaeton has already generated some of its most refined forms. Clearly, Nick León and his stage partner are doing great things.


Halina Rice

A suite of harmonies and melodic fragments on the keyboard, pre-recorded music modulated live. Cerebral techno, electroacoustic, IDM. Londoner Halina Rice doesn’t have the look for the job, no extravagance in her clothes on stage, you could easily see her leading a doctoral seminar. Appearances are deceptive, however, for Halina Rice creates excellent technoid music, with a convincing variety of consonant arrangements, a superb selection of industrial sounds, techno, big beat, female choral singing, and synthetic hooting not unlike that of Arab women. This succession of contrasting climates, misted with dry ice and visuals designed by the main artist herself, illustrates the conceptual scope, superior intelligence, and sensitivity of this woman who, we predict, will leave her mark on her profession.

Quan & DBY

At the heart of the night, a Montreal tandem from the Chez.Kito.Kat label plays minimal techno, archly binary for the obvious needs of the dance floor at this hour of the night – 2am to 3am. The overdubs are relatively discreet, and there’s absolutely nothing ostentatious about this program deployed at the SAT: various whispers, raucous lines, boiling micro basses and other synthesized borborygms produce a counterpoint without overpowering the beat. Rather than displaying all the science they’re known for, breakbeat, deep house, acid, ambient, dub, bass music, dub, all produced by impressive lutherie, notably the purpose-built modular synthesizers Quan and Dog Bless You (hence the acronym D.B.Y.), Samuel Ricciuti’s real name) will give us a conclusive hour of small modulations and big beats for dancers who haven’t migrated to MTELUS, where Sync is playing at the same time.

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