Unsound previously presented the world premieres of the live scores to the hit TV series Stranger Things and Chernobyl, each an immersive, atmospheric experience in their own right. Now Unsound presents the premiere of Candyman Live by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, a 70-minute show drawing on his music for the 2021 sequel to the horror classic. Robert says: ‘This presentation is an electro acoustic score that is the culmination of months of collaboration and investigation of the folklore attributed to the trauma of black bodies. The intention was to produce a sonic landscape that existed as a character within the film while honoring the cinematic legacy of the story as well as the universe created by Clive Barker.’
Lowe’s main instruments are his own voice, modular synthesisers and effects, field recordings and more. He will be joined on stage by a 15-person ensemble including artists Matthew Morandi, Randall Dunn, Brent Arnold, Hubert Zemler, Resina, musicians from Kraków's Spółdzielnia Muzyczna Contemporary Ensemble, and singers from the Polish Radio Choir (Chór Polskiego Radia). The result will be a memorable experience for fans of experimental music, film scores and horror.
Opening the evening is Aleksandra Słyż, a Polish composer and sound artist fascinated by the connections between the human body, technology and sound, performing with visual artist Maks Posio in a specially prepared show.
Co-presented with the Kraków Film Music Festival.
The opening night of Unsound takes place at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology and includes OFF LICENSE, a new ensemble made up of queer icons Juliana Huxtable and Ziúr, as well as visual artist Theresa Baumgartner, who together will create a sublime audiovisual poem with sonic pyrotechnics. Norwegian Bendik Giske employs circular breathing techniques to deconstruct the very idea of the saxophone, as captured on his mesmerizing recent album Cracks. (Joining Bendik is Bridgit Ferrill, on electronics.) Opening is Flora Yin-Wong, who will present Binding Utterance, a reading underscored by compositions and field recordings exploring the idea of living spirit possession in the use of masks in Noh theatre, and in particular the Deigan mask: 'woman turning into a demon'.
Eartheater blends songwriting, dreamlike acoustic instrumentation, challenging digital manipulation and her own spectacular three-octave voice. Tonight, Eartheater will perform music from Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin with The Phoenix Ensemble, a group of Kraków classical musicians who have come together especially for this show – expect something special. Polish band Bastarda are perhaps best known for their contemporary interpretations of medieval music connected to funeral rites; now, in a work especially commissioned by Unsound, they will present their collaboration with Jrpjej from Nalchik, Russia, who perform Circassian ritual music.
Less is more, they say, and despite pandemic-era Unsound being scaled back this year, we’ve worked to encompass a range of music in our late-night programs. Tonight’s offerings include Polish producer Lutto Lento pairing with live drummer Jan to present his 2021 album Legendo, described as ‘a work of sonic weird fiction’. Tennessee rapper bbymutha couldn’t make it to Unsound’s Ephemera Festival in Warsaw, but we’ve managed to bring her to Unsound-proper for the last date of her tour. MMM – the legendary duo made up of Berliners Errorsmith and Fiedel – will present the world premiere of a new show tied to their upcoming album; expect the unexpected! (Fun fact: Errorsmith presented the premiere live show of his already classic album Superlative Fatigue at Unsound.) The night also includes the Queen of Jersey club UNIIQU3, and the blazing debut b2b set from Polish techno star VTSS and Toronto’s Chippy Nonstop. Opening is Warsaw DJ and producer Lensk, while Kraków’s Virtual Geisha closes.
Set in a post-industrial space inside Kraków’s former railway yards, the second late night event at Unsound features a main hall and a second smaller floor. Although we’ve intentionally kept A/V shows to a minimum at this year’s festival – we figure people have spent enough time looking at screens! – tonight includes audiovisual extravaganzas. The premiere of The Harlecore Experience sees virtual puppet master Sam Rolfes (also the creator of the Unsound 2021 visual identity) gleefully bring to life the alter-ego DJs featured on Danny L Harle’s Harlecore album, while Polish artist Julek Ploski will also present a new A/V show. Scotch Rolex sees Japanese producer DJ Scotch Egg team up with Uganda’s MC Yallah and Duma’s Lord Spikeheart from Kenya to present an incendiary performance, while US-born Berliner LSDXOXO’s world premiere live show follows DEDICATED 2 DISRESPECT, a bold EP exploring the intersections between rave, techno, house, gender, sexuality and race. Jamaican-born New Yorker Tygapaw then steps up with a blazing DJ set, followed by a b2b from Polish icons Dtekk and Olivia.
Meanwhile, the second floor brings together Athens-based vocalist and artist Evita Manji, the stereomodernist rhythm and soul of Speaker Music (DeForrest Brown, Jr.). and the European premiere of South African gqom producer Menzi. DJ sets come from Shannen SP – curator of the recent compilation Amapiano Now, Warsaw bass explorer Phatrax and a b2b set between TSVI and Object Blue.
Setting the mood for the night is Hermeneia of Progrefonik, who also DJs.
Created by Zosia Hołubowska & Julia Giertz, Community of Grieving was originally commissioned for Unsound 2020 online as a shared collective listening piece. Described as ‘an audio ritual to collectively submit into intermission’, the piece draws on traditions of vesper and lament and merges sonic meditation, narration and audio essay. In an extended Unsound commission, Community of Grieving will now take the form of a live performance involving electronic music, vocals, choreography and set design.
Note: this performance is not included in the Unsound pass – an extra ticket is required.
Created by Zosia Hołubowska & Julia Giertz, Community of Grieving was originally commissioned for Unsound 2020 online as a shared collective listening piece. Described as ‘an audio ritual to collectively submit into intermission’, the piece draws on traditions of vesper and lament and merges sonic meditation, narration, and audio essay. In an extended Unsound commission, Community of Grieving will now take the form of a live performance involving electronic music, vocals, choreography and set design.
Note: this performance is not included in the Unsound pass – an extra ticket is required.
The performance was developed together with dancers and singers Veza Fernandez and Edka Jarząb, musician Isabella Forciniti and choreographer Claire Lefevre. The project is supported by the Austrian Ministry of Culture and Nada Lokal in Vienna. Visual director: Joanna Nordahl. 3D design / animation: Hamed Hajmolaali
Co-organized with Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Opening this evening’s program is a brief, pre-prepared transmission of synthetic beauty from Giant Claw. Following is a solo show from Angel Bat Dawid, a US jazz clarinetist, singer and composer who has emerged as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music. An Unsound-commissioned project sees Polish percussionists Miłosz Pękala and Hubert Zemler, pianist Grzegorz Tarwid and visual artist Wiktor Podgórski (VTR) perform reinterpretations of theatre and film scores by Penderecki, along with two pieces by electronic musician Jlin. The UK’s Shackleton has one foot in the club and experimental scenes, while Poland’s Wacław Zimpel is one of Poland’s most adventurous multi-instrumentalists, composers and producers. In another commissioned work, they present the premiere of their new collaboration, The Spirit Still Remains, involving alto clarinet, electronics and voice, with Barbara Kinga Majewska and Aleksandra Klimczak. Broadly understood as ritual and devotional music, the work will explore transcendence, love and death.
The final late-night program at Unsound sees the return of The Bug in the wake of his acclaimed 2021 album Fire. He’ll perform live with MC’s Flowdan and Saint Hilare, as well as vocalist Dis Fig, with whom he released the album In Blue at the end of last year. Co-founder of Drain Gang, Sweden’s ecco2K blends experimental music, rap and pop – and tonight also performs live. A debut b2b in the making since before the pandemic features Unsound regular and the Godfather of footwork RP Boo from Chicago, sharing the decks with high speed raver Sherelle from London – a transatlantic meeting of generations and musical spirits. Groundbreaking NYC-based duo AceMoMA – made up of AceMo and MoMa Ready – are one of the most exciting acts in underground music, attracting a following within New York and beyond, due to their melding of techno, house, jungle and various idiosyncratic sounds. Bookending the night are two fantastic Polish DJs, Young Majli to begin and Monster to finish, who will close proceedings with a euphoric set.
Meanwhile, Room 2 brings together Nyege Nyege’s Diaki, from Mali, whose speeding, high energy rhythms encapsulate the Malian Balani Show sound system, and De Schuurman with his Dutch bubbling permutations. Poland’s Naphta also plays live, colliding the textures of Polish folk instruments and songs with club rhythms, while Dis Fig will swing over from the main room to DJ. Opening is an electro-acoustic set from Qba Janicki, and the premiere of a new live show from We Will Fail.
Part of Unsound 2020’s online edition, Weavings was a performance conceived and curated with Nicolás Jaar, featuring 12 instrumentalists from around the world performing via Zoom. The idea was to create a durational improvisation structured in the manner of a long fabric of sound. Echoing yarns or threads becoming interlaced, each performer played with two or more other performers, the one who came before and the one who came after. Now, for Unsound 2021, Jaar has created a new visual score to present Weavings IRL. Artists in alphabetical order include Aho Ssan, Angel Bat Dawid, Antonina Nowacka, Khyam Allami, Oren Ambarchi, Pak Yan Lau, Pawel Szamburski, Raphael Roginski, Resina, Tomoko Sauvage and Valentina Magaletti. Nicolás Jaar performs and also mixes the performance.
An eccentric introduction to the ‘deep authentic’ theme revolves around two prescient moments involving Orson Welles, tonight presented as provocations. The first is the infamous 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which, in an age of post-truth, prompts us to ask why some people believed the original broadcast to be true, yet others were sceptical. Following is a screening of F For Fake, Welles’ free-form quasi-documentary / film essay exploring plagiarism, forgery, trickery, and the tenuous line between illusion and truth, art and lies. Along with a presentation by theorist Patrick Leftwich from H O M A R Collective, the audience will be invited to discuss ideas triggered by the radio broadcast and film. The film, a fragment of the broadcast and discussion will be in English.
An intimate opening party taking place in the former Unsound club beneath Hotel Forum, known as 89 (tonight we’re using the name again!). The program starts with Charlie, from Kraków, playing a live analogue synth set to match the club’s 80s communist-era decor, followed by a live experimental show from AYA (FKA LOFT) ahead of the release of her new album on Hyperdub. DJ sets come from Bristol’s LCY, along with Kraków’s Semprey and Warsaw’s Avtomat, connected to the local label Tańce. Note: this event requires a ticket on top of the festival pass.
A screening of two films that are works-in-progress by emerging directors from Kraków, The first is People From Here by Ewelina Węgiel, submitted to the Unsound open call, exploring the life of the small community that built the Arka Pana Church in Kraków during the communist era. Escaping the rigid rules of drama and documentary, this short experimental film was born out of deep personal connections, celebrating the mundane togetherness of everyday life. The second is a work-in-progress version of a documentary Greed for Speed by Jan Moszumański, about Tanzanian Singeli music, which the documentary suggests was born out of the economic transformation that Tanzania underwent after 1999.
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Within the framework of Unsound, Alchemia presents a performance by Adam Gołębiewski, a Polish experimental percussionist who uses drums and objects he creates to explore the boundaries and basic characteristics of sound: volume, timbre, register and time, and their relationship to the performer's body. This intimate afternoon show requires a ticket on top of the festival pass, purchased at the door.