Unsound Festival New York 2014 : Preview

It’s time to get excited again, kids, because Unsound Festival is coming back to New York! It’s always nice to attend a world renown festival, and Unsound is no exception, given its long running history and deep roots in electronic music, but it’s even nicer when such an event is taking place in your back yard! Some will argue that New York is one ongoing music festival twenty-four-seven, but there’s just something about a particular collection of artists descending upon my city after some dark and frigid months. It’s the entire vibe, the familiar faces, the day-time talks and art installations that tie it all together, and of course, it’s all about the music!

Unsound is a Polish festival launched by Mat Schulz, taking place in Kraków towards the end of October every year since 2003. In February of 2010 Unsound expanded to New York and later even extended its offerings as far as London, Adelaide and Minsk. Showcasing many European (and Polish) acts, Unsound ties together many diverse genres, from ambient to noise to black metal to dub, house and techno: “What unites them is a shared sense of aesthetic investigation and appreciation for curious ears.” This year’s edition is presented by Fundacja Tone and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

One of the most fascinating presentations this year is Ephemera : A Synesthetic Installation Combining Scent, Sound, and Visual Elements. This is a collection of olfactory compositions by Geza Schoen based on musical resonances and reverberations from the sounds created by Ben Frost, Tim Hecker and Steve Goodman (that’s Kode9). The sonic palettes are reinterpreted to create scents, appropriately titled Noise, Drone and Bass. Here’s more from co-curator of the project, Małgorzata Płysa:

Scent and sound are both the most ephemeral of senses – without having a visible physical form, an image attached to them, they have the power to trigger emotions, uncover memories and move other senses. Having been working with various types of sound, often abrasive and physical, we have decided to try and blur the lines, adding sense of smell and discovering what the effects could be.

But back to music! This year my ears will be exposed to the sounds of Oren Ambarchi with Sinfonietta CracoviaItal & Halal, Suzanne Ciani & Piętnastka. One of the most exciting performances that I’m looking forward to will be that by Demdike Stare, as well as Sean Canty and Andy Votel’s collaboration as Neotantrik, and… Canty will even find the time to play as Miles at The Bunker – that’s going to be on pounding night, to include performances by Leisure Muffin and Porter Ricks (that’s Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig). There’s also a night where Inga Copeland (one half of Hype Williams with Dean Blunt) will play on the same stage with DeepChord (yes, that’s Rod Modell!!!), Huerco S.  and Wilhelm Bras.

Not counting the names I’ve already picked out, there are plenty of debuts and showcases by many unknown [to me] names, which will hopefully introduce me to some fascinating and eclectic sounds! There are also plenty of talks and free events, among them a listening session with Thomas Köner, a dialogue with Suzanne Ciani and Andy Votel (co-founder of Finders Keepers) and a panel discussion on Network Theory. Oh, and if you’re a loyal subscriber to the UK’s WIRE magazine, the April physical copy will come with a special CD featuring 11 tracks from the artists performing at Unsound!

Be sure to read our exclusive Interview with Mat Schulz!