Unsound: A Preview

A homegrown festival with a killer programme that takes place in our own gorgeous backyard that is Krakow? How can Unsound NOT be the Krakow Post’s favourite music festival year in year out? In January we named Unsound the Best Music Festival of 2009 and something tells us that January 2011’s issue might not be so different.

The lovingly curated week-long event will, as usual, take place in several indoor venues across the city, from churches (St. Katherine’s) to former factories (Fabryka club). This year’s “Horror” theme is set to be interpreted quite literally, by such artists as Italian band Goblin (credited for composing the soundtrack to Dario Argento’s horror film Suspiria in 1977), dark ambient pioneer Lustmord, Zombie Zombie (playing the music of John Carpenter), and noise and doom metal groups Monno and Shining.

Other nights interpret the theme through more oblique angles, such as on the Disturbed Calm and Darkness & Light evenings (see highlights below). The festival also hosts several free events, including a series of installations in Fabryka club (“The Hidden”), a music journalism workshop, three discussion panels, and a workshop and Q&A with sound designer and film score composer Alan Howarth. For details on the festival’s many events and for full ticket information, head to Unsound’s official website at www.unsound.pl.

Polish Artists at Unsound

Unsound has chosen the cream of the crop in terms of presenting emerging as well as established Polish musical acts to the world audience who flock to our city for the festival. The week is also a good time for us locals to take note of the new music from Poland which may have flown under our radars. Look for performances by the following Polish artists at Unsound this year: Zeppy Zep, The Phantom, SUPRA1, Eltron John, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Anna Zaradny, Sza/Za, and Baaba (who will be performing with Sistars singer Natalia Przybysz).

Unsound 2010 Highlights

Disturbed Calm, St. Katherine’s Church, Augustiańska 7, 21.10

The St. Katherine’s church events have proven to be one of the festival’s many highlights of highlights. Even with our memories still fresh with Stars of the Lid’s transcendent performance last year, we still don’t expect anything but bliss from Canadian sound artist Tim Hecker, who has created masterful soundscapes from album to album for over 10 years. Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums will close the evening with a performance accompanied by a choir led by Hildur Guðnadóttir, comprised of members of Schola Cantorum Reykjavik Chamber Choir and Krakow’s OCTAVA Ensemble. Their sound has evolved at blazing speed since their first folk-indie recordings, with their latest LP, Rivers, taking their voice-and-percussion sound to the next level with gorgeous, sweeping choral arrangements.

Darkness & Light, Kino Kijów, Al. Krasińskiego 34, 22.10

Multi-talented Icelandic musician Hildur Guðnadóttir will open this evening’s programme at the Kijów cinema performing her compositions on cello alongside Andre Vida on sax and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid on guitar. Following Guðnadóttir will be a semi-improvised performance from three European electronic greats performing under the name Moritz von Oswald Trio – Max Loderbauer, Vladislav Delay, and the trio’s namesake von Oswald (of dub techno pioneers Basic Channel). From light we delve deep into darkness with the father of dark ambient, Lustmord, who will perform his second live set in 28 years. The last one took place at the Church of Satan in San Francisco on 6.6.6. Dark enough for ya?

Hybrids, Fabryka club, Zabłocie 23, 22.10

Hopefully you’ve simply taken the last five days as practice for the rest of the packed Unsound schedule, as the serious brain-melting sonic pleasure is not set to stop anytime soon. Set your head and heart to 120 bpm for tonight’s Hybrids programme at Fabryka, where techno and house are the shadowy starting points for the night’s performers. The second room will see DJ sets from Krakow’s Eltron John, New York’s Derek Plaslaiko, Warsaw’s Jacek Sienkiewicz, and Bucharest’s Petre Inspirescu. The main room will feature sets from UK-based Raime, Actress, and Shackelton, Detroit-based Kyle Hall and Mike Huckaby, as well as Oni Ayhun (one half of Swedish duo The Knife, Olof Dreijer).

Bass Mutations, Fabryka club, Zabłocie 23, 23.10

The second of Unsound’s three club nights is Bass Mutations, which celebrates the multi-faceted sounds that have grown out of UK underground club music and dubstep in particular. The more experimental atmosphere of the second room will host sets from New Yorkers Badawi and Dave Q, grime producer Terror Danjah, post-Burial stepper eleven tigers, and Spatial, whose productions embrace a more minimal side of dubstep. Opening the first room are Cracovians Supra1, followed by an avant-dubstep all-star line-up: Dorian Concept, Hotflush artists Joy Orbison and Mount Kimbie, James Blake (Hemlock), and FaltyDL (Planet Mu). We challenge you to find a more impressive bass-oriented line-up anywhere tonight!

World Premiere of “Solaris”, Kino Kijów, Al. Krasińskiego 34, 24.10

The best was saved for last for this concert at the Kijów cinema which will close the “serious” side of the festival’s official programme. Unsound stalwart Ben Frost is at it again this year, this time in collaboration with Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason (who will also conduct Sinfonietta Cracovia on Unsound’s opening night). The duo have created a new work inspired by Cracovian writer Stanisław Lem’s science fiction novel Solaris (1961) as well as its 1972 film adaptation directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Tonight’s concert will be the world premiere of the Unsound-commissioned work, and will feature accompaniment from Krakow’s own Sinfonietta Cracovia.

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