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Krakow's Unsound Festival: A Preview
Rory Gibb , September 30th, 2011 08:45

We're heading to Krakow's Unsound festival next week, which gathers a host of excellent musicians, film and workshops under the theme Future Shock

Krakow's week-long Unsound Festival gets underway next Saturday, 8th October, and runs through until the following Sunday (16th), bringing together music, installations, talks and workshops under the theme Future Shock. Already carrying a reputation for bringing together some of the most exciting, genre-spanning line-ups on the festival circuit, this year they've continued the trend. Among a host of new and older music are Quietus favourites Chris & Cosey and Leyland Kirby, techno originators and innovators Model 500 and Ricardo Villalobos, sci-fi dancefloor producers Laurel Halo and LA Vampires, alongside a healthy dose of club music from the UK and farther afield (2562; Andy Stott; Objekt).

The festival tends to work with a single unified theme, which seems to help draw together the similarities between the artists it features. Last year it was Horror: The Pleasure Of Fear & Unease - this year Future Shock, which takes Alvin Toffler's futurist 1970s book as a starting point for thought, discussion, film and music. Future Shock does seem a particularly appropriate theme, too: this year, in the wake of the publication of Simon Reynolds' critical appraisal of our pop culture's addiction to nostalgia, Retromania, and the current revival in all things synth-based and retrofuturistic, it's a very relevant area to be exploring.

So booking the likes of Laurel Halo and Space Dimension Controller makes perfect sense, especially when placed in the context of the rest of the line-up. Both take the early days of Detroit techno as an audible inspiration and construct alternative narratives leading from that time in the late 1980s until now. That they're playing on a bill that includes Detroit techno originator Juan Atkins as part of Model 500 is a means of uniting, comparing and contrasting the two. The same is true of booking Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti - both as Chris & Cosey and as part of Throbbing Gristle they've been a huge influence on the majority of this year's line-up, so their performance (which we're very much looking forward to) will place them in the context of what came next.

The talks and installations are similarly matched: discussions of European sound art and experimental music with futurist pop oddity Felix Kubin; Robin Fox exploring the intersection between music and human biology; Hyperdub boss Kode9 reflecting on his book Sonic Warfare; a Q&A with Leyland Kirby and more.

Musically, the murky, bottom-of-a-swimming-pool contingent are well represented too, with London's bitingly sarcastic drone 'n' bassers Hype Williams, Maria Minerva (whose Cabaret Cixous album only continues to improve with repeated listens), Stellar OM Source, the loop-heavy psych of Sun Araw and Not Not Fun boss Amanda Brown under her LA Vampires guise. There's a similar weight of club music - Kode9, hyperactive grime/house from Jam City, Objekt's fragmented electro/techno and, repping Chicago's footwork sound, DJs Rashad and Spinn.

All of these elements add up to a week that's as thought provoking as it is musically visceral, and the scheduling is a joy to behold. As it's taking place over an extended period of time, most events are timetabled so as not to clash with one another, meaning that it's possible to see almost everything.

Unsound Krakow runs from Saturday 8th October until Sunday 16th October. Week-long and weekend tickets are still available, though they're fast selling out, and flights to Krakow are very affordable, even at this late stage. It's not too late to book a couple of days off work and dash across for a weekend of darkened musical delights.

Find out more at the Unsound website.

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