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Unsound: 5 premieres I can’t wait

After a year off, the Unsound festival is back in real form, under the banner of ‘deep authenticity’. Here are 5 premieres I’ll be going to Unsound for.

The Krakow festival is like no other – it took its first steps as a small, club-like event, but now it is ahead of its peers from Western Europe: with its programme, complex idea and annual themes. A year ago, the organisers invited artists to create special recordings and published a book. This year’s theme for the event is dəəp authentic.

As the organisers write:

dəəp authentic refers to the gradual shift back from online to IRL events, a phrase that involves a questionable binary—for the online world is also ‘real’, and the IRL has long been digitised, distributed and mediated. (…) On the one hand, there is Pauline Oliveros’ notion of deep listening, where the selective act of listening is explored through meditation, the body and performance, as well as the act of listening in everyday life. But ‘deep’ also suggests 21st century phrases such as deep learning, deep web, the deep state and, most of all, deep fake, linked with concepts of AI, secrecy, conspiracy, surveillance and control.

Unsound is also a unique meeting of musicians – this year, from the extensive programme, I have selected five that I am looking forward to the most.

Bastarda and Jrpjej

Bastarda is the fastest growing Polish band, with a very distinctive language that Paweł Szamburski, Michał Górczyński and Tomasz Pokrzywiński have developed extremely quickly. Whether they play funeral compositions, nigunim or fado. Jrpjej is a trio from the North-West Caucasus that reinterprets Circassian music. I can only guess to what extent their first joint concert will be dark, to what extent trance-like, as a result of combining forces of two very original line-ups.

Sofie Birch and Antonina Nowacka

Both Sofie Birch and Antonina Nowacka play very intimate music, in their own way conceptual – they create a very inbred language of expression through sparing sounds. The combination of these paths, in the Morning Glory Unsound series, can result in a combination of different compositional practices: improvisation, floating ambient landscapes, synth sounds, a minimalist form of expression that serves a wide range of emotions.

Zosia Hołubowska and Julia Giertz

Community of Grieving was created a year ago – this peculiar radio play is a result of cooperation between Zosia Hołubowska, who released a very good album Demonologia this year as Mala Herba, and sound artist Julia Giertz. A meditative event with an emphasis on community character, it is inspired by traditional Polish rituals, so the effect of meeting and group experience will be extremely important here.

Miłosz Pękala, Hubert Zemler and Grzegorz Tarwid

Reinterpretations of Jlin’s pieces performed by the first two can be seen on the Internet, but there is no substitute for playing them live, especially since the rhythmic structures that characterise the artist’s electronic music are unbelievable eccentricities. An additional element of the programme will be the trio’s own versions of theatrical and film soundtracks by Krzysztof Penderecki. Plus talented pianist Grzegorz Tarwid. I’m rubbing my hands!

Shackleton and Wacław Zimpel

They were supposed to play at Unsound in 2019, but their joint material had to wait until two years later before we could see the duo live. But they did not remain indebted: a year ago, their joint EP Primal Forms was released, which reveals the direction of the ideas. Anyone who has ever seen Shackleton live, but also Wacław Zimpel, who draws inspiration from jazz, minimalism and Indian music, knows that this may be one of the most surprising moments of the festival.

Unsound will take place in Krakow from 13 to 17 October 2021. More, programme and tickets: www.unsound.pl