Road to Unsound 2021

Amorphous festival of music and related visual arts. October 13th – 17th, Krakow

Unsound focuses on a broad swath of contemporary music — emerging, experimental, and leftfield — whose sweep doesn’t follow typical genre constraints. It has developed a reputation for identifying innovative scenes and radical sounds. An amorphous festival of music and related visual arts based in Krakow, New York, Toronto, Adelaide and sometimes other places. This year’s edition will take place between 13th and 17th of October in Krakow, focusing on the theme dəəp authentic. Unsound 2021 will investigate tensions between the synthetic and organic, the fake and the real, body and machine & online and offline, as well as uniqueness, replication, appropriation and commerce, all of which question yearnings for authentic experiences or an authentic self.

Special shows include WEAVINGS on Sunday 17th October, a durational improvisation that first took place online for last year’s Unsound, conceived and curated with NICOLÁS JAAR. Now, Jaar has created a new visual score to bring Weavings to life IRL. Confirmed artists involved in the 90-minute show include AHO SSAN, ANGEL BAT DAWID, ANTONINA NOWACKA, KHYAM ALLAMI, OREN AMBARCHI, PAK YAN LAU, PAWEŁ SZAMBURSKI, RAPHAEL ROGIŃSKI, RESINA, TOMOKO SAUVAGE and VALENTINA MAGALETTI. In another Unsound-commissioned work, Polish trio BASTARDA – best known for their contemporary interpretations of medieval music connected to death – will present a collaboration with JRPJEJ from Nalchik in Russia, who perform Circassian ritual music.

MMM is the duo of ERRORSMITH and FIEDEL. They last played at Unsound a decade ago, and now are set to present the premiere of their new show, ahead of a new album. OFF LICENSE is made up of icons JULIANA HUXTABLE and ZIÚR as well as visual artist THERESA BAUMGARTNER – they’ll perform for the second time ever to create a sublime audio-visual poem with sonic pyrotechnics. Over the last year THE BUG has released two collaborative albums: In Blue with DIS FIG and Fire, with a hoard of contributors; in a special Unsound presentation, THE BUG returns to the festival to perform with DIS FIG and MC FLOWDAN and MANGA SAINT HILARE.

Tennessee rapper BBYMUTHA had to cancel the first date of her tour at the Unsound-produced Ephemera Festival in Warsaw – but now she’s added a last tour date to accommodate Unsound. Sweden’s ECCO2K – a co-founder of Drain Gang – blends experimental music, rap and pop, and will also appear at Unsound.

Further experimentation at the festival comes from Norway’s BENDIK GISKE, whose recent album Cracks employs techniques of circular breathing to deconstruct the very idea of the saxophone; likewise, Italian RICCARDO LA FORESTA questions the role of the drum as a percussive instrument; an ethereal collaboration between Danish sound artist and ambient musician SOFIE BIRCH and Polish vocalist ANTONINA NOWACKA; Polish composer and musician ALEKSANDRA SŁYŻ is fascinated by connections between the human body, technology and sound; FLORA YIN-WONG will present Blinding Utterance, a reading underscored by compositions and field recordings; and Warsaw’s LUTTO LENTO will team up with a live drummer to present music from his album Legendo, described as ‘a work of sonic weird fiction’. Meanwhile, two singers have been added to SHACKLETON and WACŁAW ZIMPEL’s new commissioned work The Spirit Still Remains: BARBARA KINGA MAJEWSKA and ALEKSANDRA KLIMCZAK.

Due to the present difficulty of travel, Unsound isn’t able to bring together the usual array of artists from across the globe, but are still managing to connect with long-term friends NYEGE NYEGE to bring Japan’s SCOTCH ROLEX (aka Scotch Egg) with Uganda’s MC YALLAH and Kenya’s LORD SPIKEHEART (one half of Duma); the European premiere of South African gqom producer MENZI; the high energy rhythms of DIAKI, from Mali; and DE SCHUURMAN’s Dutch bubbling permutations.

Club music also comes from a premiere b2b between Polish techno star VTSS and Toronto-based CHIPPY NONSTOP; New York based Jamaican producer and DJ TYGAPAW; TSVI b2b OBJECT BLUE following their EP on Nervous Horizons; NAPHTA’s collision of Polish folk textures and club music; a live show from Krakow’s CHARLIE; and a DJ set from YOUNG MAJLI (who recently released an Unsound podcast), as well as DIS FIG alongside her appearance with The Bug. Some final names will soon be added to the late night music program.

Another commissioned work is from NY-based Polish director and artist duo PUSSYKREW, who will create an AR experience called / orcl /, including AI-powered deities placed throughout Kraków. The work is part of Pussykrew’s interactive odyssey

New announcements for the daytime discourse program include musician and author DAVID TOOP on ASMR and shared listening; philosopher BENJAMIN BRATTON, on the synthetic and the artificial; a discussion involving ELIŠKA PÍRKOVÁ, MARWA FATAFTA and NATALIA KRAPIVA of digital rights defender ACCESS NOW on the topography of oppression and violence online from Palestine to Afghanistan, Russia and Belarus; writers NORA KHAN and media theorist and artist DEFORREST BROWN, JR. will join MAT DRYHURST for an INTERDEPENDENCE session exploring Web 3, NFTs and beyond; designer and researcher SIMONE NIQUILLE will discuss the future of domestic robots; and JENNIFER LUCY ALLAN will appear in relation to her book The Foghorn’s Lament.

Those selected from the Unsound open call include the aforementioned RICCARDO LA FORESTA; Kraków’s NERDKA GALLERY, who will create a cyber cafe investigating the ‘deep production’ of identity; EWELINA WĘGIEL with her video work People From Here; and MARTIN DISLEY and MURAD KHAN, who will give a presentation on the political implications of machine learning models that generate the faces of speakers based on vocal signals.

For more info and tickets visit:

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Road to Unsound 2021


Pictures from Unsound 2019 courtesy of Modern Matters press staff

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