Hyper-detailed microhouse pioneer Marc Leclair’s meticulous sampling sensibilities aren’t strictly the domain of the chin-strokingly serious. His flamboyant four-on-the-floor glitch funk has been delighting both highbrowed audiophiles and those who instinctively understand groove-ology. Inspired by the Surrealists, automatic writing and a legacy of pre-tech grooves, his exquisite corpse of cut-ups triggers pleasurable buzzing and swooshing in the ears—hence the name Akufen, a play on the French word for tinnitus.
In the late nineties and early aughts, Leclair laid down the blueprint for a different kind of contemporary house sound rooted in fidgety microsamples and offbeat rhythmic experimentation. Ears perked up in 2000 when one of his singles found its way into the hands of Germany’s minimal techno don Thomas Brinkmann. While he’d previously been active under other aliases in the experimental scene of his native Montréal, it was the Akufen project’s prickly melodic syncopations that rapidly brought him international recognition. After releasing acclaimed EPs on German labels such as Perlon, Leclair released his debut album My Way in 2002, later dubbed the 12th best album of the decade by Resident Advisor. Sourced entirely from shortwave radio samples the record still stands as a foundational document. Other aliases popped over the years, such as Horror Inc.—a cinematically-tuned project that explores melancholy and mood through a funk-jazz lens with Leclair playing many of the sampled instruments himself. The Stowaway takes off on a slightly different tangent, but remains profoundly Leclair in its jaunt, shuffle and melodious-ness, teasing sensations that sound like piña coladas and carnivals. Constantly refining his philosophies, Leclair has dipped in and out of the Akufen identity using it alternately as an identifiable DJ moniker and his creative production soul. Over the past year, he’s channeled his knack for atmospheric, jazz-inflected sonics back into solid new EPs My Blue House and Music 2 Wiggle 2.
The playful king of electronic pastiche, who’s famously guarded about releasing the gold building up on his hard drive, returns to the festival with a long-awaited new live set to mark MUTEK and Akufen’s milestone 20th anniversaries.
Centro Cultural San Martín
Sala ab, El Cultural San Martín
Société des arts technologiques [SAT]
During the first half of this decade, Akufen was one of the biggest names in contemporary house music. A native Montrealer who had spent the 80s and 90s engaged in the fervent experimental music community of this city, Marc Leclair began to gain notoriety during the first edition of MUTEK in 2000 when one of this singles found its way into the hands of Germany’s Thomas Brinkmann. Brinkmann noticed correctly that Leclair’s style had evolved into something utterly distinct, a cut-up, micro-sampled approach to house music that recalled the work of Matthew Herbert as it did the abstraction of Leclair’s homegrown influence, the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle.
After a successful run of singles on labels such as Background , Trapez , and Perlon , in 2002 Leclair released My Way , the Akufen debut album, which became one of the most critically acclaimed records of that year. After two years of non-stop touring and promotion, Leclair stepped out of the limelight, issuing only the experimental album Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes (MUTEK_REC ) in 2005. Since then, he has released only a few remixes.
For this edition of MUTEK, Akufen returns to the stage for the first time in five years to present his first new material in just as long
Société des arts technologiques [SAT]
Among the Montreal musicians in the MUTEK spotlight, Akufen is the first to have built a widespread reputation on the international scene. Inimitable style and mixed composition techniques (computer composition, radio impulse/influx/inspiration, dissected rhythms and tender melodies) caught the attention of reknowned labels such as Perlon, Force Inc, Trapez, Background and Oral, producing a number of releases and catapulting him into the top ranks of the electronic music scene. His latest recordings have been remixed by masters such as Thomas Brinkmann, Process, Oliver Hacke and Herbert.