Originating in the ’90s, the Polish band Księżyc has 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. Disbanding shortly after their debut album, Księżyc was inactive for nearly two decades only to make their return at Unsound 2014 in Kraków. Since then, they have released a new studio album, expanded their sound and successfully toured the world with their fascinating show. Tonight they perform their first ever show in the U.S. at St. Peter’s Church in Chelsea, presented with Blank Forms and the Polish Cultural Institute New York. Although admission is free, RSVPs are now closed; any unclaimed seats will be made available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:00 PM.
Księżyc is presented by Blank Forms and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.
Jlin hails from Gary, Indiana, and was originally associated with Chicago's footwork scene before creating a truly unique sound and also collaborating with choreographer Wayne McGregor, Kronos Quartet, and West Coast Percussion as well as Holly Herndon and William Basinski. MC Miss Red first appeared spontaneously with The Bug during a show in her home country Israel, leading to her becoming one of his closest collaborators while also making music of her own. Both will discuss mentorship, collaboration, the difference between steep and slow learning curves, and more. Moderating is Antònia Folguera, a curator at Sónar+D – Sónar Festival's Creative Technologies Conference.
An exploration of the ways that traditional forms of Polish music and dance, often centuries old, are transformed and given life by meeting contemporary forms. Multi-instrumentalist Robert Nizinski and vocalist/pianist Katarzyna Smoluk-Moczydłowska of the band Księżyc discuss their combination of ancient Slavic pagan music with minimalism and experimental sounds. PC Music affiliate Felicita talks about the Unsound-commissioned performance project Soft Power, which features a hyperreal and frenetic electronic music score for dance by Poland’s Śląsk Song And Dance Ensemble. Also involved in the discussion is Kraków-based executive director of Unsound Gosia Płysa, with moderation by ARTnews Deputy Editor and Unsound curatorial advisor Andy Battaglia.
The first Unsound New York edition in three years brings together artists from nine different countries, moving from ambient to noise and club music.
The first half of the main room’s lineup starts out with experimental sounds, including Portland’s Liz Harris (a.k.a. Grouper) presenting Nivhek, a minimalist project that is harsh and dreamlike, resulting partially from an Unsound residency in Murmansk in the Russian arctic. Italian modular synth musician Caterina Barbieri will take listeners on a mind-altering journey, while Canadian Tim Hecker will blur his trademark sound with traditional Japanese musicians performing gagaku, the country’s oldest classical music.
The second part of the night veers into live club music, including The Bug with his first stateside appearance in four years, joined by Miss Red, an MC whose fiery delivery and charisma always make an impression. Indiana artist Jlin will present a live show combining classics with new work, demonstrating why her forward-thinking polyrhythmic sound is at the forefront of electronic music. Sophie blurs and collides the experimental, pop and club music worlds, in her work as a producer, as well as in her own music. She will perform a special two-hour live set.
A second room at Knockdown is presented with longtime Unsound New York partner The Bunker as well as Quo Vadis. The lineup includes a series of special live collaborations from local artists, moving throughout the evening from noise to techno experiments: Further Reductions (Rose E. Kross & Shawn O’Sullivan), Abby Echiverri & Leisure Muffin, rrao & Clay Wilson, January Hunt & Octonomy, Via App & Bookworms Presents: Asthyna and Shredded Nerve & Jackson-Pratt. Live visuals in this room will be created by New York collective Funnelled Smoke.
Caterina Barbieri and Miss Red are presented with We Are Europe.
Originally hailing from London, Shanghai-based Felicita is one of the most interesting young producers working with fractured sounds. Soft Power was originally commissioned by Unsound, in collaboration with traditional dancers from Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble, the oldest and most renowned company of its kind in Poland. This unique work synthesizes traditional choreography and costume with new music to create a hypnotic multimedia experience. The concept stems from Felicita’s childhood education in traditional dance, and explores folk culture, national identity, tourism, branding, illusion, and farce.
As Ben Ben-Beaumont Thomas wrote in The Guardian: “Folk dances, involving lots of twirling around and dramatised romance, are paired with plangent piano melodies, scorched ambient noise and, most incongruously, wild synthetic pop. Despite (or rather because of) the aesthetic clashes, it hangs together in a supremely atmospheric whole. Devised in the wake of Brexit, it’s a stirring affirmation of how cultures can coexist while retaining their own voices.”
Soft Power is organised in collaboration with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music programme and POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme celebrating the centenary of Poland regaining independence.Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022.