Acid Test

Acid Test: MUTEK.ae – Does Dubai’s cutting edge music & tech event live up to the hype?

Acid.Works
By Acid.Works 3 min read
03 Jun 2024

On May 5th, Acid braved a busy weekend of our own NXME event, hangovers, foot surgery and improv classes to finally attend Mutek.ae. The music and technology exhibition, running annual at the amazing Al Serkal Avenue in Dubai. Along with Sophia, Tabrez, Dee and myself, we caught 3 shows of experimental sound and visual magic. It’s not for the faint hearted, it can do deep into dark spaces fill with nothing more than bleeps, flashes and matrix like moments… but it cannot be denied the level of creativity and innovation on display.

Check out our video and photo highlights (shot by Gareth on Fuji XT-5 + 16-55mm lens) along with a summary of our thoughts on the conference below…


01.
Arriving and our first show

As the final night of the weekend event, there was a calm on the streets but an undeniable vibe as screens lit the spaces around Al Serkal, we ventured down to one of the spaces by the The Crate so see our first performance. Experimental electronica and real time black and white abstract visuals combined, a mix of creatives, tech and music heads sat and stood around the space.


02.
The Dome

Tabrez’s excitement for the dome was very real, so we bought our extra tickets and waited in line in anticipation. Dome by name, dome by nature… with bean bags piled in the centred to lay on and look up to the ceiling. Although we were advised this show would have a bigger kick to it, and everyone was welcome to stand and dance.


03.
The Afterparty @ Concrete

The afterparty / final show was held at the cavernous ‘Concrete’ a place I’ve actually Dj’d before. But this time it was in true Mutek style… fully blacked out with 2 enormous ground to ceiling screens that created a V shape across one entire side of the room. The first performance was a glitchy, dark and ultra minimal techno sound and backed by equally minimal visuals.

There was an underlying feeling of the underground, dark spaces, unusual, new sounds and visuals. The crowd was legit and great to meet new people. It felt like being a 21 year old again.

Conversations in the darkness, people outside congregating while taking a break. The chaos of loud sounds, strobe lights and people together. It’s what we used to do on an almost weekly basis as students and it was great to be taken back to that feeling.


Tabz and Sofia wrapping up 2 nights at Mutek.

Acid Test Score – 4 /5
(Highly recommended)

What we loved:

  • The cutting edge vibe, community & people
  • The purity – Absolutely no toning down of anything, it was intense at times
  • The sound & screens – Incredible quality systems, needed to showcase their sound and visuals at it’s best
  • The branding and events visuals generally – very good

Suggestions for next year:

  • A little more variety in the spaces to contrast the darkness. Something more causal, funky during the day in a coffee shop (Night Jar perhaps).
  • Workshops and tutorials to learn about experimental visual projects (and sound).
  • More welcoming / informative comms – To expand numbers and attract more curious, creative people (it felt like it was really an meeting of the elite music and creative heads).

Final Thoughts:

It’s incredible to have experiences like this in Dubai, it’s one of the cities where so many different people can come together. As we said it’s not always a safe space, you will hear and see a lot of unusual things. A big shout out to the performers, in particular Matthew Johnson (who got rave reviews) and Satishie Tomie, a Japanese house, progressive and  we’ve been listening too since the mid 90s. Mutek gets a 4 out of 5, we highly recommend it and hope to catch you there next year.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the review.

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