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by Philip Sherburne

October 4, 2013

Unsound 2013

by Philip Sherburne  |  October 4, 2013

You could be forgiven for not knowing about Unsound festival. For one thing, it's a small affair, with a total attendance numbering no more than a few thousand people. It's also held in Krakow, although the organizers have also put on satellite events in New York and London. But even if you can't make the trip to Poland, it's worth keeping an eye on Unsound's lineups. Few events anywhere in the world have as focused an aesthetic while remaining so radically open. Unsound's aesthetic tends to favor the dark, hypnotic, even disturbing sounds of artists like Sunn O))), Lustmord and Vatican Shadow -- a tendency it made explicit with 2010's theme, "Horror" -- but there have also been playful jazz-improv accompaniments to Roman Polanski's silent shorts and deranged karaoke sessions, hosted by the Caretaker, in which balloons were handed out to the audience.

Over the years, performers have included Theo Parrish, Shining, Stars of the Lid, Grouper, Fushitsusha, Model 500 and dozens of other artists that defy any neat schema, and this year's lineup is no different. There's left-field rap (Clipping, Mykki Blanco), kuduro (DJ Marfox), footwork (RP Boo), old-school electro (I-F), metal (Earth) and a host of noisy miscreants (Pharmakon, Nate Young, Pete Swanson, James Ferraro, Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, formerly known as Hype Williams), not to mention a generous helping of dance music (Anthony Naples, DJ Qu, Samuel Kerridge, Underground Resistance). So check out Rhapsody's playlist sampling this year's lineup -- the theme is "Interference" -- and see if your head doesn't buzz.

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