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Dream Baby Dream: Unsound Festival Reviewed
Luke Turner , October 27th, 2014 13:46

Luke Turner and Rory Gibb head to Krakow for a week at Poland's Unsound Festival, the theme of which is The Dream... the likes of The Bug, Cyclobe, Zamilska, Ksiezyc, Powell and Russell Haswell send them into a heady, other place... Photos by Anna Spysz and Camille Blake

Go to Unsound, they said. Go to Unsound, in a city where history crumbles with the plaster from the buildings, where the mist from the Vistula floats through the dark streets with you as, powered by fermented potato and grain, you're gradually taken to pieces by music that's strange and heavy and hard. You'll want to go back, they said, you'll never want to leave. They were right...

Dreaming of dreams

Before arriving at Unsound, the traditionally cynical English mind finds it a little difficult to get a head around the idea of a theme binding the programming together. Perhaps that's because at home, with the honourable exception of Newcastle's ever-brilliant AV Festival, the closest we come to festival themes is the grimly banal LOLs of Bestival's fancy dress. This year's theme for Unsound is The Dream, expressed thus "The Dream is a symptom of a world where self-expression and experience are increasingly mediated and commodified... Music is one of the ultimate harbingers of an emergent Dreamstate. Its cultural capital expands even as its labor is gradually emptied of monetary value. Through a series of artistic actions, films and talks, Unsound 2014 will explore these ideas, as well as consider their original source - the counter-culture movements." It's quite a contentious theme, as revealed by some of the responses from Unsound artists to our questions about "living the dream". How will it take us as we drift away... Luke Turner

Dreaming of Nigel Farage's balls in a toaster...

With the rise of UKIP caused by fear of immigration from Europe's eastern countries, Poland is arguably having a greater impact on British politics than at any time since the Second World War. Do those who are sending England lurching in a grimly ignorant, aesthetically moribund rightward direction really imagine that Poland is one vast Ryanair departure gate? The racism directed towards Poland is doubly depressing given that this is a country that is at the forefront of experimentation in European music, putting the UK to shame. I ask a Polish festival-goer why he thinks there's such a great creative outpouring at the moment. "Young people today didn't grow up under communism, they don't have that fear," he tells me; "I remember going to the border, what that was like." For now at least, Krakow seems to be doing well at escaping the worst of Western (ie American) interference - one of the main tourist drags has a McDonald's and a KFC (why consume that muck when Polish food is heaven?), and there is one housing development surrounded by hoardings that have slogans in English such as "Where Creativity Lives" "Assets For Generations" and "Experience The Exceptional" but hopefully they might be kept at bay.

We've had sufficient debate about what constitutes psychedelic music on The Quietus lately for me not to go into it here, but Alameda 4 seem to exemplify what's so exciting about Polish music's kaleidoscopic tendencies at the moment. Featuring tQ favourite Kuba Ziołek of Stara Rzeka, onstage they're a mass of heads nodding to a blurring groove from a wandering-armed drummer. He plays rhythms that take red eye flights from Germany in the 1970s to funk from Nigeria and Scandinavian free jazz to Black Sabbath falling apart during an aviation disaster without actually sounding like any of the above. The best kind of third eye frug is one that creeps up on you - which is why I think the crowd member who dismisses this as "pensive Kraut" is possibly missing something. There's a lot of more direct dance music to come at Unsound, and it's quite satisfying to hear something more chaotic and organic, even if one tune that I thought was going to get black roll neck me moving like a 1971 philosophy professor with 'contacts' peters out into a bit of a rattle.

There's a daily afternoon session in Klub Re, an underground venue that's half brick vault, half reinforced concrete bunker that largely focuses on Polish artists. The highlight of the performances comes from Jacek Mazurkiewicz, who uses his double bass as the source material for looped and manipulated sounds. There's a bandaged drum stick that creates bass like a cogitating bear, a wire brush and tuning fork placed against the bridge to make a clangers 'wooooeeyoo'. Later on, Piotr Kurek plays a soundtrack to absurdist short film Rondo. There are people in the way so I struggle to make head or tail of what's happening on screen - there's a man in a Ronnie Wood-style wig playing a violin, someone stuck up a tree, a departing train, some shooting - but the soundtrack itself is excellent - all harmonium, jolly blops, processed vocals like Oompah Loompahs off to a tea dance. Thursday night is closed by Zamilska, perhaps my favourite of the Polish artists discovered while browsing the Unsound website in advance of the Festival. Earlier in the day she insisted that her music -rugged 4/4 interspersed with samples of African, Indian and Arabic chants and song - wasn't techno, which, given the grinning reaction she's causing among the largely local 4am crowd, is perhaps slightly disingenuous. Still, it is distorted and choppy and, however heavy the likes of 'Enemy' and 'Army' Zamilska's music is no macho pummel, but dexterous and provocative - those samples of chant and song from around the world are intended, she tells me, as a challenge to Poland's own conservative tendencies. Luke Turner

I dream of wires

On the Monday of Unsound, Suzanne Ciani is in conversation with Andy Votel, discussing her work with synth smart pants Don Buchla, whose famous Buckla 200 has been updated and reissued. In a time when old synths are rather fetishised in curiously geeky male gaze, her take on her relationship with her instrument is fascinating. She found it easier to be taken seriously as a female musician in the commercial world than the art - we hear an excerpt from 'Fish Music' a wavering, humming piece that makes the leap between the pioneering and the prosaic - it was was composed to soundtrack an aquarium in a shopping mall. "There's a law in the US that any new shopping centre had to have a certain part of its budget spent on artistic enhancement," she tells us. Back in the day she says she was "traumatised by the vulnerability I had with this machine. I had to wean myself off it and get some distance just to be healthy". Now, using the Buchla 200e, she says "I did fall in love with that machine and I want to fall in love with it again, but it's not happened." When she complained to Buchla, he said 'why not make noise? Do you need melodies?' But, says Ciani, her relationship with the new synth is like that with a second child "why can't you read better? Why can't you throw the ball better? Perhaps what I need to do is to find out what it wants to do."

This idea, of the synth (and by extension drum machines and Logic) as living entities sticks in my mind as the week unfolds, especially when, on Thursday night, the action shifts to the glorious Forum Hotel, a giant v-shaped brutalist structure on the banks of the river that, sadly for anyone hoping to take a Jonathan Meades-esque selfie, is covered in a gigantic billboard advertisement for Calvin Klein. Everything in here, for better or worst, sounds incredibly tactile. Dopplereffekt brings a froideur that's the closest match to the architecture of the building all weekend, followed up by heavy sets from DJ Stingray and Robert Hood. Testify! Perc seems to be having trouble with the excessive bass of the sound in the main room, making his performance of material from the killer The Power & The Glory sound like it's having to punch its way out from under a mattress.

Look! There's Russell Haswell, leaning off a pole. Look! There's Russell Haswell, doing push-ups! Look, there's Russell Haswell boshing his head around so hard one wonders if that omnipresent baseball cap is glued on. Haswell is a continuous presence at the Diagonal label's takeover of the second room on Friday night, an avant-garde vibesman entirely committed to the cause that insists noisy electronic music doesn't have to be a dry or overly-cerebral affair. Evol hammers strobes in time to high-pitched digital lunacy, an endurance mission like being stuck on a waltzer spun by a man whose madness is only revealed once it's too late and you're strapped in and spinning. Then, if you recorded this ancient sticky carpet up off the floor and amplified it might sound a bit like the glorious ripped noise that Haswell himself makes next: structure comes and goes among silences and big monolithic things stood there in the middle of nowhere, out of place and rude. Props must go to the Diagonal artists for live debuting new material in front of a new and unknowing audience at a festival. Does that make it easier? Probably not - given they're up against the pleasures of Robert Hood, Bronze Teeth's slowly grinding, droning, fizzing rattle has an inexorable energy to it that gradually sucks and teases the energy from deepest recesses into legs and arms. They're just lubing the room up to be ready for Diagonal boss Oscar Powell's first ever live set which, for a clean limbed young man, is one of the muckiest bits of the weekend, a grotty, grinding blast of something on the fringes of techno, EBM and noise: muscle and hate, love and lust, sweat and tears. Luke Turner

These dreams are sometimes more than real

A beat comes in. A man fills up plastic cups with water and places them on the floor. A beep is heard and he runs to the other end of the room. Another man tuns in the other direction. ARGH! It's the bleep test! The curse of many a secondary school PE lesson when the entire class was sent running from one end of the gym to another, trying to touch the wall in time with a beep that got closer and closer together. The one in black now and then beats out a snare tattoo, a strobe starts flashing and then everything begins throbbing. My word if only PE had been like that! It was sometimes but that's another story. Anyway NMO works as described - Fluxus Techno, a surreal and fun combination of the audible and physical. NMO are perhaps the most surreal of all the groups at Unsound who twist and mess with expectations and conventions of what one might expect from an arts festival largely devoted to electronic music.

At first I can't make head nor tail of Lorenzo Senni. Ravey top notes sound as if they're guillotined off one of those CD compilations of mainstream club music music with a CGI bikini lady on the cover. It's terrifyingly bright, perhaps infuriatingly so, while one of the last tracks he plays shakes the floor and has a shrill patter, like busybody Angels trying to interrogate a human soul after its temporal home has just joined the silent majority thanks to a surfeit of speed. After this hyperreal distillation of rave, Andy Votel and Suzanne Cianai along with Sean from Demdike Stare take things down and hypnotise with that Buchla synth and footage of dancing women, flying birds, flowers, animals in death throes on the screen behind them. It seems as if Ciani has fallen for her second child, after all.

Karen Gwyer's set on Thursday night is is a pure release. It's hard at a festival to get an instantaneous physical reaction, but within seconds of entering room two my cheeks (top ones) are starting to burn strangely, It's the sheer density of what she does, and how well the different sounds dance within it, and how completely lost within it she seems, that makes this feel like being carried upwards by as yet uninvented hybrids of hawk and drone. It also doesn't really sound like much else I can think of, Shackleton perhaps, but this is even more immersive, twinkling around you like lights from the land as you sail up an estuary at night. This Karen Gwyer tunes sounds like 'Being Boiled' being fired out of the waste mangler chute of a nicely engineered intergalactic space hotel. Wonderful stuff - Gwyer is clearly off to bigger things. Luke Turner

I dream of The Red Room

There's something so overtly Twin Peaks-ish about the decor and atmosphere of Krakow's Club Feniks that it’s hard to imagine what on earth they host here outside of Unsound hours. (I’ve heard mention that, back in the real world, it's a men's social club of some sort, but it's still near impossible to visualise what that might look like in this setting.) With the bar hidden away around a corner, the scarlet-lit main room is all mirrors and deep red cushioned booths, with red velvet curtains draped down every wall. It doesn’t alleviate matters, of course, that Valerio Tricoli’s performance on Friday afternoon packs plenty of Lynchian hallmarks, with its sudden, shocking blasts of raw noise and tape fizz haunted by demonic whispers and gabbling reversed voices.

His Miseri Lares album on PAN has been one of this year’s slow growers, in part down to its formidable length, but also its detailed nature - not one for casual on-the-move listening, its audio ghosts and haunted vaults reveal themselves in full, sinister 3D when listened to in that most focused of settings: headphones, with lights down low. So Feniks proves the ideal location. Half-hunched over a customised tabletop that looks somewhere between a builder’s workbench and a cockpit prop from an 80s sci-fi film, he alternates between gently placing loops of tape and violently hacking away at the sound with an array of switches. Out pour nerve-shredding blasts of static, peculiar creaks that sound like dead trees swaying in a hurricane, the sounds of splintering wood, bassy rumbles and moments of tentative near-silence, all wrapped around each other in configurations that feel organic yet pointedly artificial. Its final minutes are an extended peak: tearing noise and robotic hums, while a bright strobe light on Tricoli's control panel flickers rapidly as if the white hot mass of sounds struggling to escape is tearing the machinery apart in the process. Then silence and darkness, save the room's omnipresent red glow. Rory Gibb 

I dream of fractured land and broken skies

Nature, and our emotional, artistic and spiritual response to it, is woven through the Unsound programme and, satisfyingly, in subtle ways. It fits Krakow, a city that suits the tired sigh of autumn, with trees dropping leaves along the tram tracks and crows milling overhead each night at dusk. Ánde Somby is a Sami from the northern extremes of Norway, and he tells stories of wolves leaping into the firelight and the gifts of song. In his traditional red tunic, he gives a lupine howl, then sings from the front of his mouth and the depths of his throat, before embarking on a bellow that's at once exuberant and tortured, his face contorted. As ever with an encounter with ancient musical forms it's a salient reminder that what we know now as 'difficult' music was once a commonplace part of everyday society. Today's accessible forms dull an instinctual gleam.

On Friday, Unsound have tempted Polish group Księżyc (meaning moon) for what might be their first concert, in a spectacular church in Krakow's Jewish quarter. The audience sits facing away from the sacred end, looking towards a splendid pipe organ behind which is a window curiously sited off centre in the wall at the bottom of the nave. Facing the musicians a giant statue of Jesus looks down from a giant sun. Two women's voices start in the back of the building, they walk down the aisle repeating the same words in harmony, occasionally yelping, ending with a scream. The first piece is based around their vocal dance, it becomes something new a repeated series of notes on clarinet and piano. The wind instrument is the signifier here - this is music of the natural uncanny, a Central European parallel to Talk Talk, Coil and Cyclobe, or newer hunter gatherers of the unknown like Norway's Wardruna or our own Kemper Norton. Luke Turner

This is nature jazz (one track is the sound of dripping water and clarinet), warped folk music and performance art. At one point the two singers throw a giant white ball with torches inside it from one to the other, before howling yelps like foxes fucking. Then there are wine glasses hums, one piece that might be hymn (my Polish is non-existent but it definitely ended with an "amen") and ends with the theatrical removal of a red cloth from a gong on which he murmurs for a while before Tibetan prayer bowls ring.

In the more austerely grand surroundings of an old tram shed, these acoustic atmospheres are turned electronic, darkened, imbued with a sense of loss by Nurse With Wound. Film footage shows the view out of a car windscreen, wipers on, out across a beach to the sea. Scenes play across it, as if from the life of someone self-doomed and about to stride out into the briny as they play their music of increments, a slow tectonic shift of drones, bass, guitar.

As antiseptic places go, an Ebola exclusion ward wouldn't have much on the ICE venue, a plastic-tiled modern monster of a theatre sat on the banks of the Vistula. Cyclobe though fill the dark room with the cries of crows, a woodland at dusk. It's a simple but effective trick to begin a concert that's one of the most stunning performances of the weekend - and indeed one of the finest I've ever been to. 'How Acla Disappeared From Earth' builds and looms to crushing bass weight, raging gongs, hurdy gurdy drones and pipes. On the screen bare branches and trunks of trees flicker, the feeling is akin to be lost and panicked in the depths of a forest. It degrades to near silence, the only sound Ossian Brown scraping a stick on some kind of drum. It's this mastery of the physicality of things that gives Cyclobe their energy, that makes their music able to spur the imagination to visit places diverse and unknown, to conjure an idea of nature that's outside the anthropomorphism of wildlife television - an old photograph of a horse appears on the screen and it looks like a wraith. With their traditional wind instruments and timeless tailored rustic attire they resemble a band of musicians wending their way through an imagined landscape, a side line in saucy apothecary to help keep the their steeds in hay. Like landscape itself, this is both monumental and intimate (one of the finest moments is when four members cluster around a mic to play recorder), daunting and offering solace. If find myself starting to breathe strangely, to cry, to start hallucinating burrowing down through the very particles of soil. I'm turned inside out by these uncanny English ragas hewn from memories nobody has known. Luke Turner

I dream of flesh and bones, of gristle and blood

We're made of water, which stretches us as the moon passes overhead, squeezing imagination from our subconscious. Unsound bring the body into The Dream theme via Ephemera, an installation a series of rooms, some blacked out save for sculptures resembling chemical symbols, and each of which is heady with a scent especially concocted in response to the music being played - noise, from Ben Frost, bass, from Kode9 and drone, from Tim Hecker. It's part of the attention to detail, the desire to create something more than just music or conference, that makes Unsound stand out.

The 16th Century Renaissance-style Cloth Hall sits in the middle of Krakow's main square and, as well as market stalls full of tourist trinkets and Catholic tat in its lower arches, houses an art gallery hung with gigantic canvasses of scenes from Polish history. There are a lot of men, some bearded, all sturdy brandishing halberds, riding past cannon. The few women are rather... draped.

Given the context it for once doesn't feel inappropriate to note that onstage is an all-female ensemble, Jenny Hval and Susanna joined by keyboard and tuba player to perform their stunning album, Meshes Of Voice. They begin with the sound of breath - unmeshed voice - unstructured and whooshing through the room before they begin to sing: "Lay down before the altar". Their voices becoming tones and then climbing forth again, complimenting each other and contrasting with, and becoming consumed by electronic noise. At other moments their vocal melodies follow each other or the drones, or vice versa, sometimes vanishing into an evoked bleak vastness. It's powerful, astonishing, narcotic, sensual, physical: lyrics of "milk pleasures", honeydew eyelids and breasts. I've never really felt many artists have come close to capturing the wild magic of Nico's Marble Index, but Hval and Susanna do here. The noise rears above like a wall of green water above a doomed skiff. Their voices have such power because combined they can cover such breadth, heights and depths of emotion. This is beyond voice as melody becomes voice as texture and voice as noise, and voice as a plane that will take shavings off the surface of your soul.

On Thursday in Hotel Forum, I finally get to see Vessel play Punish Honey live, complete with strobing footage of half naked men in a police cell in various states of contortion, licking the wall, hiding under a bench. Sebastian Gainsborough sticks a torch in his mouth and wiggles his head, bangs his head, and 'Red Sex' squirms around the place powerfully, but weirdly seems to lack a bit of the slippery ooze it had in the intimacy of your ears.

Later on, from near the back of the main room, Chris Carter's face is uplift in orange against the blue screen. Intent on his business, he has the air of a Doctor Who villain whose power is such that he could break the rules of television and could cause untold damage to the BBC's finances by ending the franchise there and then. Anchoring the trio, the energy his rhythms give Carter Tutti Void is impossible to escape, which is why previously when writing about this unusual collaboration we probably always end up discussing the energies fired out into the room and the strange warmth that follows. Tonight though it's a little different - this is the biggest crowd I've seen Carter Tutti Void play to, and it's so dark and low ceilinged that the vibe is far more claustrophobic, everyone compelled to an automaton bob as the sound snidely, sneakily builds - just when on the verge of stasis some new unexpected element from Cosey Fanni Tutti or Nik Void will appear and evolve. This is what makes this more than Factory Floor and TG members trying their hand at Sandwell District techno - it's weirdly hypnotic, restrained, selfish even - when the more familiar Transverse material appears, it twitches as if nipple clamps had been applied. Luke Turner

These are dreams of England in flames...

You can't see in Hotel Forum for a massive fug of dry ice, lit blood red. Spaceape's voice booms around the room reciting 'At War With Time', the poem that Kevin Martin released to put his new album in some kind of context" "we're all just trying to function through the chaos of total malfunction / beauty is everywhere but the price is so high / Angels & devils behind all of our eyes". Given Spaceape's recent passing, it flips the atmosphere in the room before... if you could see smoke shake, you'd be seeing it now. Martin, visible through the clearing fog in his hoody and cap, unleashing a devastating barrage of noise. It's relentless, the voice of Grouper a texture in the crusher, then Copeland upping the ante with 'Fall' and it's almost biblical narrative of the undulations of civilisation. Then boooom there's Flowdan, Manga, Miss Red just ripping the place apart.

Extreme volume is often deployed by dilettantes to cover up a lack of genuine weight to what they do. In Martin's hands, the crushing bass that just keeps pouring forth from the stage, ridden by his fearsome lyricist allies and MCs, is protest violence, a reaction to, and hopefully cathartic overcoming of everything that seems to be falling apart around our ears in these dark days at the end of 2014. By the end of this set - one of the most dramatic outpourings of sonic power that I've ever encountered - my shirt is completely drenched in sweat, my last reserves of energy gone. Bathe the nation in this and save us all. Luke Turner

I dream of delay

The Hotel Forum's main room is bathed in deep, dappled blue. Light plays across the bodies on the dancefloor like ripples on the bottom of a clear pool, glancing off the faces of dancers and framing their loose, jerky movements for brief seconds at a time. The effect is eerie - it feels like, all around me, time is running at half speed. The music's impact, though, is quite the opposite. Stiff, chesty beats arrive in frantic, machine-gunned clusters, each one swooping from the sound system in its own oblique pattern: vortical arcs and hieroglyphic etchings, jackhammer horizontals that terminate in abrupt explosions before melting into showers of effects, double-time kickdrums that slam straight into the gut and ricochet downward through the legs and feet. The sheer excess energy is enough to make you feel itchy, and its effect is clearly being felt by others here, too - it's not even midnight and everyone's glazed with a fine film of sweat. 

The shaven-headed silhouette onstage, dwarfed by the gigantic stacks on either side of him, is Sasu Ripatti, and this is a live airing of his latest project, Ripatti. It’s the first thing we’ve heard in the Forum since last night’s seismic Teklife showcase, and the parallels between Ripatti's latest music and footwork’s limb-tangling rhythmic barrage are audibly clear ("Teklife in dub," as one friend comments to me). Both pack abrupt directional shifts and wildly divergent drum patterns that drag you in several directions at once, while as tonight’s set escalates to fever pitch near its end, gorgeous gossamer strands of sampled soul vocal (a footwork hallmark) begin swirling through the mix like dye stirred through water, their words unintelligible amid clouds of delay. Between his recently released music, this startling performance and his new Vladislav Delay album Visa, it certainly sounds as though Ripatti's been absorbing some influence from contemporary Chicago, and it's welcome indeed; he sounds more joyful and energised right now than he has done for years. 

You could, if you liked, view this new music as doing to footwork something roughly analogous to what Ripatti did to house on Luomo’s Vocalcity - disentangling its component parts and reassembling them into gorgeous, dynamic and unpredictable ecosystems, whose effect is highly emotional and intensely tactile. But in truth it actually feels just as much like a heightening of characteristics that have long defined Ripatti’s work. The turbulence that's always lurked at the heart of Vladislav Delay, even at its most zoned-out and placid, is here drawn right into the foreground. While there was always a sense with Vladislav Delay that Ripatti was fashioning a protective cocoon for himself - an amniotic bubble of dub effects to cushion the blows of the outside world - the clarity of tonight’s music feels like emergence. It's still a beautifully sculpted unreality: beginning deep beneath the surface, where beats are muffled as if heard through kilometres of seawater, we're gradually buoyed upward as the focus shifts to create hard edges and whirlpools of pebble-hard drums. By this point the entire crowd is dancing, and any remaining trace of last night's tiredness vanishes as phantom voices and glassy, dubbed-out chords billow around the room and wash coolly over the skin. When the set stops, as with Cyclobe’s performance earlier in the day, it’s like being wrenched out of a dream cruelly early. There’s nothing else the entire weekend that comes close. Rory Gibb

I dream of the future, I dream of the past

On the Wednesday at Unsound, I host a panel about transgression, volume, sex, ritual... those sorts of thing. As ever with panels at music festivals, it wanders all over the shop, taking in individualism within a hedonistic electronic music scene, how transgression in a modern context might be found in music that aggravates. For me, the PC Music room on Thursday night, featuring Sophie, is musical kryptonite, as aggravating and not sonically dissimilar to the high-pitched songs heard on 90s cartoon The Chipmunks. I'm not averse to it per se, for it's always pleasurable to be annoyed by music for people far younger than yourself.

It's also a test of whether one will become a bore, quacking on about how things were better in my day. One of the great pleasures at Unsound was, on that panel, meeting Barry Miles, former editor of Time Out, (before it became a Yellow Pages of pop-ups), co-founder of International Times, expert on Burroughs and the Beat poets and a writer who was very much around in the 60s - he and his wife introduced Paul McCartney to hash cakes, and he ran all sorts of happenings including The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream at Alexandra Palace. Frequently when speaking to music journalists of a certain age they remain fixated in the past. Perhaps it's because Miles was actually there, involved, doing it, rather than pissing around the perimeter and subsequently desperately scrabbling for validation, that Miles tells me (along with many amusing and saucy stories that, alas, one oughtn't go into here) that he's no rosy-tinted Golden Ager because there's still excitement, creativity and art to be found everywhere today. If only there were more like him in older generations not weighing down the creativity of those younger. Let the dream of Unsound be that this music becomes less strange, becomes more ordinary. It seems to work in Poland - the audience here is not an Experimental Music Audience per se, but young, gender-mixed, nattily dressed, up for it. I can't see a festival as exciting and wide-ranging as Unsound happening in England at the moment.

On Monday lunchtime the festival recommends a trip to the Cafe U Stasi for traditional Polish fare. Opposite me sits a man in a thick, grey jacket and silver hair, slurping into his tomato soup and grunting, flicking droplets from whiskers across the table. He speaks, then switches to English after seeing my blank expression and hearing my hopeless attempt to apologise in Polish. He'd been to London seven years ago on a cultural exchange of some sort. "The diplomat way" he snorts, and digs his spoon into the broth. He says he much prefers what he knows about the poetics of sound: "You see the thing in music is there is no such thing as old or modern music. It is all music." Luke Turner