NUIT ÉLECTRONIK: Dan Bell + Wighnomy Brothers @ Station C

By Trevor Kiernander - Ones and Zeroes - 02/25/2006

In my four years of living in Montreal, the one thing I still haven’t been able to accept is this ridiculous near-death freezing that we are so graciously blessed with over what seems to be more months out of the year than anyone could ever wish for. Though this review isn’t about the weather, what would a review by me be if I wasn’t complaining about something? With that being said, we can get down to the goods that was Nuit Blanche on the 25th, and MUTEK and Piknic Électronik’s presentation of their 3rd consecutive NUIT ÉLECTRONIK.

Last year’s performances by Crackhaus, Mike Shannon, Jay Hunsberger, Mossa and Matthew Herbert were by far one of the best -- and most freezing -- nights I had had, especially the tag team live performance between everyone (sans Herbert) near the end of Mike and Jay’s set. So when I saw that they had lined up Dan Bell -- and at Station C to boot -- I wasn’t going to let a little bit of frozen hell keep me from heading out. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Station C lately and with the quality of the shows I have seen there. Getting to see the Richie Hawtin and Mark Houle sets last semester were definitely something to write home about. Simply put, the sound was amazing. For the size of the venue and the size of the stacks they had, you would expect your ears to be bleeding, but this wasn't the case at all. In fact, it was so nice to be able to hit a show, and not leave with ringing, buzzing ears. Clean, crisp sound is how it should be done, and they had hit the nail on the head with that one.

So back to Nuit numéro trois. The night opened up with a live set by Montreal’s own Deadbeat (aka Scott Monteith and 1/2 of Crackhaus), but unfortunately I didn’t get there in time to catch his spot. Having seen him before though, I’m sure it was every bit as good as it has been in the past. I did however get there in time to catch the live p.a. by Ernesto -- a first for me, but I am a fan of his DJ sets. Another Montrealer, Ernesto had the early crowd shaking what their mama’s gave ‘em! It is no secret Montreal has some serious heavy hitters in the tech, house and techno genres, but man, I’ve been hitting these parties for well over ten years now, and it is so refreshing to hear the music treated properly. I’ll be making sure I get to see Ernesto’s live sets again in the future.

Germany’s Wighnomy Brothers were the next act in their exclusive North American debut performance (I was secretly hoping Wighnomy was the German word for beard, but I’m sure it isn't). To be honest, I really felt these two were hit-and-miss. They were definitely enjoying themselves and getting the crowd pumped up, but I just found myself coming in and out of caring for much of their three-hour set. Though I may have been a tad bit tired, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed and was fading fast, which was making me dislike them even more as I wasn’t going to miss Dan Bell on their account.

Dan Bell was the main reason I braved the weather for. Being one of my personal favourites since he hit the scene in the early 90’s, Detroit’s Bell is probably best known for some of his earliest work he did on Richie Hawtin’s and John Acquaviva’s Plus 8 records. As DBX, his Losing Control literally made people lose their crap, and the same with "Technarchy" and "Cabaret Seven” as Cybersonic with Hawtin and Acquaviva. So history lessons aside, Dan Bell is definitely up there in the canon of electronic music and someone who everyone should know about. His set was pure proof that he is a master of his craft. There was an obvious vibe shift as Bell followed the fist-pumping Wighnomy set with minimal Detroit techno, but the crowd at least seemed to know what they were witnessing -- though at 4:00am at the city’s annual “all-nighter”, it is often hard to tell if the majority of people are just cracked out, or genuinely interested in what is going on. Dropping some tracks I haven’t heard in almost ten years was making me all the more unaware of the throngs of people stumbling all over me. I am a personal strong believer in building your sets that cover the entire genre, and not just the year's current top 25, as it both shows your understanding of the music and a great appreciation for what has been and what is to come. Dan Bell does this to a T.

By the time I got home around 6:30am -- and having to get up a couple of hours later for the Art Matters press party -- I could barely feel my back, legs and feet, but it was in the name of the finest Detroit techno. Major thanks to MUTEK and Piknic for bringing Bell in and giving us yet another chance to see and hear the reason the music is where it is today.

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