Since the theme for Unsound 2015 is Surprise and because the lineups for many of our shows remain unannounced until the artists hit the stage, I’ve decided to organize this guide in terms of of my personal recommendations regarding surprise shows. Although it doesn’t represent the entire festival, it does give a taste of what to un-expect in Krakow this year. I couldn’t resist including the Ephemera live experience, which is the next phase of a project we started last year that connects sound and scent via installations and a perfume series based on Bass, Noise and Drone. The live show premiered at Unsound Toronto a few months ago and involves a performance by Tim Hecker, Geza Schoen’s Drone scent and light design by MFO. The result is a unique immersive, dreamlike, multi-sensory experience.
General festival tip: You may need to bring some warm clothing this year, as it looks like the temperature might get chilly.
Sunday, October 11 @ Kamienna: Unsound Opening Party
The first Unsound party this year will take place in an old cargo warehouse owned by the Polish railway. It’s a little out of the city center near some tracks where trains still pass, which lends the setting a very atmospheric vibe. Yes, there’s also a slight smell to the place, but after a few drinks and some dancing, who can tell? As for the lineup, it’s 100 percent secret, but rest assured that it’ll take you on a post-geographical, post-industrial and even possibly post-curatorial journey, as its creation may have involved tossing a coin.
Monday, October 12 @ Manggha Concert Hall: Shadows
The only announced acts on the bill at Shadows are Rabih Beaini (AKA Morphosis) and Ghédalia Tazartès, a French musician. One of the Surprise acts could involve vaseline and noise. Say no more.
Tuesday, October 13: Surprise Karaoke Event?!?
Rumor has it there will be an unofficial Unsound karaoke party on Tuesday night after the concerts with Elysia Crampton, Sax Ruins and other mystery guests at Manggha. If it takes place, expect the cheesiest hits possible.
October 12, 13, 14 @ Kościół Świętych Apostołów Piotra i Pawła and Kościół Św. Katarzyny: Morning Glory Parties
The free Morning Glory shows start at 11 a.m. in Krakow’s most beautiful churches: those of the saints Peter, Paul and Catherine. The lineups are completely unannounced, but together the three events are like a little music festival unto themselves. It might be harrowing to climb out of bed so early after enjoying Unsound’s early week unofficial after parties, but trust that it’ll be more than worth it.
Thursday, October 15 @ Wieliczka Salt Mine: Revelations Feat. DJ Richard and Surprise Acts
This show is already sold out, but needs to be listed here anyway because it’s so special. It gives new meaning to the word “underground” with two secret shows held in a ballroom located in a medieval salt mine more than 100 meters beneath the earth’s surface. White Material staple DJ Richard will be there, but he’ll subvert the expectations you might have of a prime time DJ set from someone who released one of the best club albums of the year. He’ll play a unique experimental/ambient DJ set as the audience slowly enters through a miner’s elevator. If you’re feeling so inclined, you can even take an extended tour of the salt mine before you hit the live shows.
Thursday, October 15 @ Hotel Forum: Invisibility Cloak feat Holly Herndon, Surgeon & Starlight and more
In addition to a lineup that includes Japanese stalwart DJ Nobu, Amnesia Scanner, Holly Herndon and Surgeon’s collaborative project with Lady Starlight (which you can read about here), we’re very happy to present a commissioned project at the Invisibility Cloak party at Forum, especially because we haven’t announced who’s involved in the project or what it is. Suffice to say that bringing these two artists together is the kind of concept that you wouldn’t necessarily expect, yet makes total, overblown sense.
Friday, October 16 @ Muzeum Inżynierii Miejskiej: Receptor feat. HEALTH
Programming an unannounced musician before HEALTH is fun because there are so many possibilities. Should we book someone famous to startle people? Maybe. Or should we go obscure? Also possible. This is the beauty of the Surprise theme: you can upend things in different ways.
Friday, October 16 @ Hotel Forum: Convergence feat. Shackleton x Nisennenmondai, Levon Vincent, the Zenker Brothers and More
Much of the lineup here has already been announced and includes Helena Hauff in a b2b set with a surprise guest, South African house musician Nozinja and footwork pioneer RP Boo across three rooms. We’re also putting an artist onstage in Room 1 for a 20-minute show at prime time with a simple mission: almost drive the audience from the room, yet somehow keep them in there with a mind-bending and ear-stretching performance. In other words, this is a test to see how far you can push things on a festival club night. How will it turn out in reality? I don’t know, but that makes it exciting.
Saturday, October 17 @ Rotunda: The Ring of Gyges feat. Bill Orcutt
This is the first time we’ve produced a show at Rotunda, a Krakow student club harking back to the Communist days. It’s also great to program surprise artists after Bill Orcutt from the seminal noise rock band Harry Pussy, who plays on a four-string acoustic guitar. As with the surprise opener for HEALTH, we were excited about the ability to take the proceedings in many different directions. Obviously I’m not going to give too much away, but the program explores minimalism and maximalism in unexpected ways.
Sunday, October 18 @ Kamienna: Greg Fox's Gregidency
After seeing Greg Fox play with the likes of Zs, Liturgy and Ben Frost, the idea came up for this incredible New York drummer to come to Unsound for a Gregidency – a special mini festival residency for Greg Fox. He’ll perform with Liturgy on the Saturday night, then the next day play with artists neither he nor the audience know about in advance. Greg even offered to drum blindfolded. We’re not sure we’ll take things that far, but I have high hopes for this unique extended set of musical twists and turns on a Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, October 18 @ Muzeum Inżynierii Miejskiej: Equilibrium
We’ve long wanted to bring jazz musician and improviser Rob Mazurek to Unsound, and he’s performing at two special shows this year on Unsound’s final Sunday. The first is on the Main Square, where he will play a response to the Krakow Hejnal, a traditional tune played by a trumpeter each hour from the tower of Mariacki Church. At night he’ll be at the closing concert in a former tram hall with surprise guests, and I have not the slightest doubt this show will be superb. Then something rather unexpected will follow Rob, and after that you can hit the closing night party, where the single announced act is The Black Madonna. The rest is secret.