What does it mean to be Living The Dream? The Dream is a symptom of a world where self-expression and experience are increasingly mediated and commodified.
The Dream plays out on laptops used for work and leisure, in networked coffee shops, airports, international “artistic enclaves” and nightclubs. Anxiety is its underside: those Living The Dream often do so in precarious financial situations, while in the background, ecological and economic systems lurch towards collapse.
The Dream is the (unintended) result of a century’s worth of counter-culture.
The Dream is the status update.
The Dream is seamless creation and sharing.
The Dream is the history of music available at the click of a button.
The Dream is fleeting and highly combustible.
Music is one of the ultimate harbingers of an emergent Dreamstate. Its cultural capital expands even as its labor is gradually emptied of monetary value. Impacted by the new music-industry infrastructure, media companies and brands, a kind of global “underground” forms, where the insatiable drive to be fresh produces, paradoxically, more of the same. Nowhere is this more evident than the modern festival, where line-ups seem to become more homogenized, whether at mega-raves or smaller specialised events.
“The Dream is an act of auto-criticism and self-reflection aimed to trigger discussion,” says Mat Schulz, Unsound artistic director. “It isn’t meant to be negative, but inquisitive. Historically, The Dream stems from alternative and even oppositional artistic movements and social systems. Our question is, what remains of that subversive drive? In asking this, we realise we also open the position of our own festival to scrutiny, no doubt revealing contradictions.”
Through a series of actions, films and most importantly talks, Unsound 2014 will explore these ideas, as well as consider their original source - counter-culture movements beginning with Dadaism, leading through the Beats, situationist movements, punk and onward. The Dream will also present pivotal musicians and artists whose success — or lack thereof — doesn’t affect their refusal to compromise.
Already announced, SWANS will perform a long overdue Unsound debut, with the band’s leader Michael Gira surely one of the most original figures in contemporary culture. Backed up by what is viewed as the best line up in the band’s history and supporting their new album “To Be Kind”, this promises to be a key point in the program.
Norway’s DEATHPROD aka Helge Sten is perhaps best known as part of Supersilent. Largely working under the radar, his music has nevertheless been highly influential in its formulation of a dark ambient palette that has become so present in current music. Rarely performing, Deathprod will present the seminal album “Treetop Drive” at Unsound with the following line up: Helge Sten - audio virus, Hans Magnus Ryan - violin, Pekka Stokke - visuals, Christian Obermayer – sound.
CHRIS CARTER and COSEY FANNI TUTTI will appear in a trio with NIK VOID of Factory Floor to present CARTER TUTTI VOID. Thus far, Carter Tutti Void have only performed one live show, resulting in 2012’s “Transverse”, acclaimed as a classic live album. The Unsound show is part of a regrouping to present 'Transverse II', a second phase of live presentations of their collaborative work.
An Unsound-commissioned project sees REN SCHOFIELD - better known as CONTAINER - joining forces with Norwegian drummers KENNETH KAPSTAD and TOMAS JÄRMYR, who usually work within jazz, metal and electronic scenes. Kapstad and Jahrmyr will effectively take the role of “human drum machines”, who via an elaborate series of contact microphones, effects and triggers will perform Schofield’s music live. This project is co-curated with Mattis With.
Australia’s THE NECKS and Austria’s RADIAN are bands with a long history and resolute focus. Now they will bring their sounds together in a collaboration involving a total of six musicians that promises to be landmark event. Their Unsound concert will follow the premiere of the collaboration at the Graz festival Musikprotokoll, whose initiative has brought The Necks and Radian together.
Polish band KSIĘŻYC (“Moon” in English) has not been active since 1996, but continue to have a cult following thanks to their distinctive, experimental sound which combines vocals, acoustic instruments and tape and is influenced by minimalism, Slavic folk and psychedelia. Their only album is the self-titled “Księżyc” (1996), pressed on vinyl last year in an edition of 500 by the UK’s Penultimate Press, generating interest and speculation about where and if they will reunite for a live show. Now the secret is out: Unsound 2014.
Icelandic/Australian musician BEN FROST has had a close relationship to Unsound since his first legendary performance at the festival in 2008 at St. Catherine’s Church (you can listen to that here) and through the development of various projects including “Solaris”. In 2012, Unsound also provided the platform for the initial live presentation of Ben Frost’s new project with percussion and electronics, developed further and captured on his acclaimed album “A U R O R A”. Ben will now present music from “A U R O R A” with light design by Marcel Weber aka MFO.
As always, Unsound will also present a wide program club and dance music. The first of many names yet to be announced includes Detroit producer DJ STINGRAY, a veteran in the world of techno/elektro, whose career ranges from performing as Drexciya’s assault DJ to his Urban Tribe alias. Also added is New Jersey’s JOEY ANDERSON, who has released one of the most distinctive albums of dance music in recent years, “After Forever”, a deep, subtle and futuristic take on house music.
PERC’s critically acclaimed album “The Power And The Glory” is both bold and unruly, twisting the often rigid form of UK techno into something personal. Taking her name from the female alter-alias of Dada artist Marcel Duchamp, incognito U.S. producer RROSE also draws on a techno template that incorporates drones, hallucinatory ambience and visceral noise. Poland’s ZAMILSKA has captured a huge amount of national attention for her album “Untune”, and like Perc and Rrose performs live at Unsound.
Coming from a different musical realm, TOTAL FREEDOM is part of the Fade To Mind collective, weaving pop and the outer regions of dance music in highly original yet effective ways that feel utterly contemporary.
Delving further into experimentation, TCF aka Lars Holdus is a Norwegian producer who uses technology to create forward sounding, immaculately produced music with widescreen vision. EVOL call their project as “computer music for hooligans”. Their Unsound Festival New York 2014 appearance was described by the New York Times as: “both heady and bedeviling. Steady bursts at dance club tempos prompted physical responses, stymied by an asymmetrical flux.”
After its successful launch in New York, the multi-sensory installation EPHEMERA comes to Krakow. Bringing together scent and sound, Ephemera presents olfactory compositions based on musical resonances and reverberations. The nose behind the project is Berlin-based GEZA SCHOEN, known for the groundbreaking Escentric Molecules series as well as various avant-garde/conceptual scents. Three musicians — BEN FROST, TIM HECKER and STEVE GOODMAN (aka KODE9) — created sonic raw material which Schoen then reinterpreted to create three different scents: Noise, Drone, and Bass, respectively. Ephemera’s visual component is an evolving pattern created by London-based MANUEL SEPULVEDA (OPTIGRAM) and video artist MARCEL WEBER (MFO). You can check out a freshly released video for Steve Goodman’s Bass here, with videos and sample tracks for Noise and Bass already online.
Note that a major project within this year’s Unsound is LUMINOUS BODIES, which brings the festival together with partners INSOMNIA in Tromso, Norway and ICELAND MUSIC EXPORT OFFICE / ICELAND AIRWAVES in Reykyavik. Supported by the EEA, this project involves co-curation, with Polish, Norwegian, Icelandic and other artists displaying cultural diversity, as well as commissioned works.
WEEKLY / WEEKEND PASSES AVAILABLE FROM JUNE 26th
ANNOUNCED LINE UP SO FAR:
Ben Frost (IS/AU)
Carter Tutti Void (UK)
Deathprod presents: Treetop Drive (NO)
DJ Stingray (USA)
Joey Anderson (USA)
Ren Schofield (aka Container) with Kenneth Kapstad & Tomas Järmyr (USA/NO)
Total Freedom (USA)
The Necks & Radian (AU/AT)
“Ephemera” (IS/DE/UK/CAN) by: Geza Schoen (Scent), Tim Hecker (Drone), Ben Frost (Noise), Kode9 (Bass), Marcel Weber (Video) and Optigram (Visuals)