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UnsoundFestival2018_HOTEL FORUM SIMULATOR SICKNESS_fot.HelenaMajewska-40

Unsound Kraków 2019: Highlights

Text by CLOT Magazine

UnsoundFestival2018_HOTEL FORUM SIMULATOR SICKNESS_fot.HelenaMajewska-40
SIMULATOR SICKNESS, Unsound 2018. Photo credit: Helena Majewska

In less than two weeks, another edition of Unsound Krakow will take place from October 6 to 13 in Kraków. Solidarity is this year’s festival theme. Everyone more or less socially and culturally committed is well aware that the political, technological and environmental turmoil we have been facing for the last few years seems it’s ramping up to unimaginable levels. The team behind Unsound have lined up a series of talks, screenings, performances and installations to make us immerse and reflect on what it means to be a social human being in these complex times. Within the solidarity theme and at the core of the line-up, we have selected the most relevant topics for us. 

Portraying the effects of environmental crisis and looking into an optimistic future, writer and strategist Jay Springett will moderate a panel on interspecies solidarity and will give the talk Solarpunk: Life in the future beyond the rusted chrome of yestermorrow. MATMOS are back to Unsound to present his brand new album Plastic Anniversary; an album recorded using only plastic objects. EMPTYSET will premiere Blossoms, a work focusing on ideas of evolution and adaptation, fragmentation and resilience, and the convolution of the biotic and abiotic agency. The acclaimed photographer Richard Mosse will present Incoming, a complex audiovisual piece where he looks at how we see the victims of the refugee crisis. The artist uses military technology that, in his hands, becomes a tool to create empathetic imagination. 

Some of the acts will take us back to the ’80s, a time when the communist system was crumbling, computing technologies were hinting at their potential, and the first free elections since the communist Polish United Workers Party abandoned its monopoly of power took place in Poland. Warsaw-based writer and theorist Jan Sowa will present his research project Solidarity 2.0, in which he investigates what is left of democracy today; Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir will perform the live premiere of Chernobyl, and Robert Henke will be presenting presents the world premiere of the audiovisual show CBM 8032 AV, run entirely on restored Commodore CBM 8032 computers.

How do we look for solidarity beyond borders and passports? How to have empathy and imagine the lives of other people? To find responses to these questions, we must look at how the global community takes action and care. The Caretaker is Leyland James Kirby’s project exploring themes of memory and loss. Through a series of six albums released over three years between 2016-2019, The Caretaker devoted himself to sonically interpreting the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The result is a final epic project to be released under this name entitled Everywhere at the End of Time. Everywhere at the End of Time will be presented for the first time in a live show combining music and visual artist Weirdcore‘s visualisations, drawing on The Caretaker’s iconic cover artwork, created by painter Ivan Seal. Iranian artist Sote will present Parallel Persian, a collaborative album described as a soundtrack for a science-fiction version of Iran – that combines electronics and traditional Persian instruments to create an alternate sonic universe.

SUNN O)))credit-2018 SUNN O)))-RONALD-DICK
SUNN O))), 2018. Photo credit: Ronald Dick

Eli Keszler and Nate Boyce will present the European premiere of Pedagogy, their new audiovisual project exploring different instrumentality aspects. London artist Klein will present her ever-evolving multisensory show Lifetime, exploring the fragility of one’s culture through memory and loss. 

Music unites culturally and politically, on a sonic level, in a space or even online. Blackness, Afrofuturism, and protest come from the hand of Moor Mother, DeForrest Brown, Jr and British-Nigerian film director Jenn NkiruA. A first-time collaboration between Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist Moor Mother and the London Contemporary Orchestra, The Great Bailout is a free verse poem that acts as a non-linear word map about colonialism, slavery and commerce in Great Britain and her commonwealth. Speaker and musician DeForrest Brown, Jr will discuss the state of Black representation across the music industry, covering a general history of Black music as it relates to the general development of on-the-ground music cultures. Black To Techno, directed by British-Nigerian Jenn Nkiru, reclaims the black origins of techno in Detroit in a nonlinear short film.

Other acts we won’t be missing are Sunn O))) who will perform following the release of their new album Life Metal, which brings light and colour to their sound and image. Around Unsound, they will also release another album, Pyroclasts, described as more meditative—also, the new audiovisual show of Roly Porter and MFO. Exploring the ways our pagan roots and technology-driven present are inextricably interwoven, we will not be missing legendary Vladislav Delay, who returns to Unsound with a live show testing new material for an upcoming album. 

And for those who stay at Hotel Forum until the small hours Wixapol and Gabber Modus Operandi brings intense gabber vibes. UK’s Sherelle and FAUZIA will represent London’s young, energetic scene with more high-speedy music, blending the sounds of the jungle, juke and footwork and DJ Violet, with a fantastic just-released album in Dark entries, will be one of the artists that will close the festival with a set at the closing party on Sunday. 

(Media courtesy of Unsound)
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