Photos by Seze Devres /
The Bunker with Monolake, Demdike Stare, Hieroglyphic Being - Unsound photo gallery
Line-up /Monolake (live) - The Ghosts in Surround (imbalance computer music | Berlin)
Demdike Stare (Modern Love | Manchester)
Hieroglyphic Being (Mathematics | Chicago)
Laurel Halo (Hippos In Tanks | Brooklyn)
Ital (Not Not Fun, 100% Silk, Planet Mu | Brooklyn)
Zemi17 (Auditorium | Brooklyn)
Berlin-based Robert Henke aka Monolake, was born 1969 in Munich, Germany. He is a multidisciplinary thinker, composer, sound designer, software developer, installation artist and audiovisual performer. His art is focused on carefully shaped details behind the surface and gradual changes of repeating structures in different time scales. Henke places equal importance on the interaction between audiovisual arts, and the physical spaces in which they take place. He is currently exploring new technologies such as wave field synthesis and ambisonics, and makes use of large-scale high-resolution projections to create situations of total immersion and either decouple the spatial experience from a given space or enhance its inherent properties. Many of his works are defined as potentially endless and slowly evolving states, thus inviting the audience to immerse themselves completely for a freely defined amount of time.
His sonic explorations are rooted in academic sound research and computer music as well as in contemporary club culture. With his collaborative musical project, Monolake, he helped shaping what later became 'the sound of Berlin techno music', whilst his more conceptual works are frequently performed or exhibited at art galleries and festivals.
Henke's contemporaries include a growing group of artists who use new technology and computer science for the exploration of new aesthetic territories between composition, performance and installation. For Henke, the artistic results that are evident in his works - as well as creation of the instruments and tools necessary to achieve these results - are two sides of the same artistic process.
Henke's interest in the combination of art and technology is further evident in his contributions to the development of the music software, Ableton Live. Since Ableton's founding in 1999, he has been central to the development of Live, which became the standard tool for electronic music production and performance, and is currently used by more than 100,000 people worldwide. Henke also writes and lectures about sound and the creative use of computer. He holds a professorship in sound design at the Berlin University of Arts.
Henke's performances and installations have been shown at the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MUDAM in Luxembourg, the PS1 in New York, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, the Sonar Festival Barcelona and others. Henke has released more than twenty albums, with his work, Layering Buddha, receiving an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2007. Currently, he is working on a laser based audiovisual installation, on a commission for the Acousmonium, the INA/GRM multiple speaker system. His most recent album Ghosts, was just released in February 2012 on his own label, imbalance computer music.
Tonight he will be appearing in 3D Surround Sound, something he also did at his last New York appearance also at The Bunker in October 2010. This appearance is part of his Monolake Ghosts in Surround Tour which aims to present the material of the new Monolake Ghosts album in the most dramatic, beautiful and immersive way: As a full surround sound experience plus real time generative video. Precisely crafted earthshaking beats, rough dirty noises, deep bass, wide lush soundscapes and little sonic creatures inhabiting a fascinating planet in which a lot of things go badly wrong and nothing is taken for granted - an audiovisual tour into new territories. Equally stunning is the visual side, contributed by the Dutch audiovisual artist Tarik Barri who has been collaborating with Henke since early 2009.
Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker started working as Demdike Stare in 2009, brought together by their long standing friendship, and penchant for collecting vinyl records. The project reflects their open minded approach to music, in both it's scope and depth. Using influences far and wide, from films, literature, and every era of music, they create atmospheric pieces using a 'looking back to move forward' approach. Whether it's field recordings a la folkways, the non-commercial world of library music, the freeform approach of Jazz, or the possibilities of music hardware. They strive to incorporate these influences and add contemporary techniques from their love of modern electronic music.
The duo almost instantly achieved acclaim worldwide with their stunning 2009 debut album Symbiosis on Modern Love. It's combination of bass music, dub, world music influences and minimal techno felt right at the cutting edge of sound in the moment but was merely the start of what has rapidly evolved into a sonic world and visual sensibility all their own.
Over the course of 2010, visuals started to appear connected to the project, often taken from rare obscure British horror films, then the duo delivered three extended EPs - Forest of Evil, Liberation Through Hearing, and Voices of Dust. These records expanded their sound palette including more elements of sound design, drones, Arabic and African influences and a concerted effort to create the sonic equivalent of magick rituals. The mysterious elements of these releases were enhanced by artwork from Andy Votel. Around this time in June 2010, the duo also made their first appearance in New York at The Bunker. At the start of 2011 all three were compiled together with bonus tracks to form the three CD sophomore album Triptych.
Demdike Stare ended 2011 and started 2012 which four EPs - Chrysanthe, Violetta, Rose and Iris. These have just been compiled into the February double CD release that is their third album Elemental that has seen the duo further refine their sound palette. It could easily be argued that they are now at the peak of their powers as producers with a unique approach to music that crosses boundaries and genres. There's is the sound of something unusual emerging from the darkness, neither totally abstract, nor totally dancefloor their music remains free of constraints and truly experimental in the best sense of the word. People have compared them to Coil, called them Pagan digi-dub and said that the ambience their live show evoked was a dank cave under a Lancashire moor. But despite this inherent darkness their sound also contains elements that are very beautiful. Free of clichés we can only expect their live show at Unsound Festival New York to excite.
Chicago-based avant-garde House, sound, noise artist Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being has recorded for a variety of labels including Sony Europe, Jeff Mills' Axis, Ghostly International, Soul Jazz, Interdimensional Transmissions and his own innovative Mathematics Recordings. Moss is one of the last of the line of producers directly influenced by Ron Hardy's legendary DJ sets at the club that put house music into the limelight worldwide the Music Box. He is also equally influenced by Sun Ra, John Cage and free jazz / experimental noise visionaries of the past. This unusual confluence of inspirations led to The Wire magazine calling him "perhaps House's only card-carrying Afro-Futurist." Moss himself see's it all in a much simpler frame noting in the same article to The Wire "There is not blackness or whiteness in music so I don't have to consciously do anything to transcend stereotypes and just enjoy and celebrate creation as a whole."
Moss's first creative endeavors were as part of a crew that created industrial soundscapes / Art Noise for the Liquid Love parties held at the famed Powerplant in Chicago from 1989 to 1990. When Powerplant closed, Moss and his cohorts started Liquid Sex, which became a magnet for many well-known house artists including Steve Poindexter, who put Moss in touch with future collaborators the Chicago Bad Boys collective.
From the autumn of 1993 to the summer of 1996 he was host and DJ for 89.3 WNUR's radio program StreetBeat, showcasing a segment named Jack-FM. He was also taken under the wing of house legend Adonis, who became a key mentor figure in Moss's life. From these varied experiences and connections, Moss has created a unique sound universe of his own.
Over the last decade, his music has slowly risen to broader acclaim, especially in Europe were his distinct abstractions have found a wide range of supporters and led to him not only performing live and as a DJ but also composing Sound Art Installations in Spain and Italy and performing at events like the recent Rotterdam International Film Festival 2012.
Under the alias Hieroglyphic Being he has released a staggering 22 solo albums since 2008, many of them as limited edition CDRs on his own Mathematics imprints. These showcase a rapidly evolving artist whose music is yet to reach a static point. His label Mathematics has also become home to a broader range of talent from established artists like Pointdexter to a new wave of producers including Marcello Napoletano, John Heckle and Kuba Sojka. His appearances in New York in the last decade have been rare and often in smaller venues so this opportunity to hear him on a larger system in a context suited to his sound should be a special experience for fans and newcomers alike.
Higher harmonic energy is the keystone of Laurel Halo's music, which challenges the boundaries between techno, ambient, pop concrete, dub and synthetic psychedelia. Fixed stylistic territories fold in on themselves, time quickens - it's music for transit and body listening.
Halo's 2010 King Felix EP gained notice among fans of electronic pop for its nuanced songwriting, rhythmic complexity and her unique singing voice. Many felt King Felix sounded like a blueprint for something larger, which was later realized on Halo's 2011 LP-length EP Hour Logic - a recording which manipulated and stretched various stylistic rules of electronic musics, including electro, dub techno, jungle and motorik. Though Halo's vocals were submerged on Hour Logic, the record went on to gain critical support and several year-end nods for its bold approach, stylistic depth and general freshness.
Meanwhile Halo's live set has electrified clubs, DIY venues, festivals and museums both in the States and Europe. In the live context Halo's music becomes heavy, looming and dancefloor driven. As Jon Caramanica of the New York Times has written, "she's a sharp, and sometimes tantalizing performer who knows how to deploy wobble, drone and nervous energy in refreshing fashion."
2012 is off to a good start for Halo - on March 19th she'll release the Spring EP under a new alias, King Felix, for Mute's new sublabel Liberation Technologies; and later in May, her debut LP will drop on a TBA label it has songs, so we're told.
Halo's original music and remixes have appeared on Hippos In Tanks, RVNG, NNA, DFA, Human Ear and Endless Echo. She is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and resides in Brooklyn.
If you've heard Daniel Martin-McCormick's name recently, it would probably have been either in association with his disco/punk/echo band Mi Ami, or as Sex Worker on the Not Not Fun label, or finally as Ital on NNF's sister label 100% Silk. Now based in Brooklyn, but raised in Washington DC, Daniel has a history in that city's hardcore scene. He was in the Dischord Records signed Black Eyes, and was also making dance inspired tracks at the same period, but coming from a very different angle than your average guy with a copy of Logic and a working knowledge of dance music's history.
Daniel's music is a stranger thing. Working best at high volume, it uses house's easy going 4/4 structure as a kind of camouflage for more out-there sonic explorations; subverting expectations, seeking out the links between the space and the sound-bending of dub & industrial's unsettling sonics with the grooves of classic house and the effects and black holes of minimal at it's weirdest. His debut album Hive Mind just released this March on Planet Mu has a sculptured feel; three dimensional sounds twist in space, and melodies pitch-shift in an unsettling way; voices dissolve in and out of these frameworks and the whole album has a unique, haunted feel; nothing is ever allowed to settle totally comfortably, everything vibrates.
Hive Mind's titles also hint at such themes as how culture insinuates itself on you and the meaning of pleasure, it's ironies and forms, drawing in creeping fears of the internet age. The album has received major praise from a broad range of press and fans alike. His live show takes things to another level: more accessible and immediate, it captures the spirits of dance music past and the energy of Daniel's roots in punk and hardcore. Like other artists appearing on this bill, including Hieroglyphic Being who remixed Ital, Daniel's music pushes at new corners of sound free of genre restrictions.
Zemi17 is the Brooklyn based composer, musician, sound and installation artist Aaron "Taylor" Kuffner. He specializes in creating visceral multi-point sound environments. He is the co-creator, composer and art director for the Gamelatron, the world's first fully robotic gamelan orchestra. He is a featured artist of the Berlin software company Ableton Live, co-founder of the Auditorium Surround Sound Music Series, teaches audio production at Dubspot, performs with the group Zero Gravity Thinkers, and was the resident DJ for the legendary Danger warehouse parties.
Kuffner has performed more than 300 times in 19 countries in the last decade. He has received grants and awards from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, New York State Council on the Arts, Indonesian Foreign Ministry, The Berlin Arts Council, EU / European Commission, James F. Robison Foundation, and The Soros Foundation. For Unsound NYC he will perform a live set with syncopated panning in surround sound.
Warsaw is an integral part of the city's music scene, winning Best Rock Venue from New York Magazine, Time Out Critic's Pick, and praise from Zagat, who captured the Warsaw experience with the elegant four star tagline - "where pierogies meet punk".
Warsaw has played host to outré newcomers (Le Tigre, the New Pornographers, Cat Power), as well as still-relevant favorites (Patti Smith, Frank Black and Wilco). The huge ballroom's vaulted ceilings and gilded walls imbue a stately hue comparable to the Hammerstein, making it a more appropriate a venue for this unique festival event.
Like Unsound Festival New York itself, which is the offshoot of the Krakow based Unsound Festival, Warsaw has many Polish connections. It's located inside the Polish National Home in Greenpoint. Inside, the adjoining spacious pub and bistro features a mural depicting the cities along the banks of Poland's Vistula River above a seemingly endless bar. The bistro also serves native Polish delights, making it one of the only places you can enjoy homemade pierogies or kielbasa while drinking beer and enjoying your favorite band.
Unsound Festival New York, the New York offshoot of the acclaimed Kraków festival in Poland, is a festival for the exciting and turbulent new decade we find ourselves living in. From its first outing in February 2010, Unsound Festival New York established itself with fans and critics as an essential addition to the New York culture calendar no small feat in a city where every week can feel like a festival. But by embracing a broad range of genres from contemporary classical music to post-industrial sounds to black metal to new directions in bass driven club music, Unsound Festival New York uniquely explores what it means to be cutting-edge in our current music scene.
The third round of Unsound Festival New York will take place on Wednesday, April 18th through Sunday, April 22nd at venues across the New York and continues the festival mandate to connect lesser-known artists from Eastern Europe with their Western counterparts. Additionally, Unsound Festival New York will feature experimental and unusual programming, all free to the public, under the heading Unsound LABS. In 2011, this programming preceded the main festival ticket; this year it will be fully integrated into the programming. You can also mark your calendars for October 2012 when Unsound Festival in Kraków, Poland is set to deliver its one of its most adventurous programs yet with a special Tenth Anniversary program showing just how far this festival has grown from a small cellar in Kraków's Old Town into one of Europe's most prominent and influential festivals for electronic and experimental music.
Unsound Festival New York is presented by Fundacja Tone, the Polish Cultural Institute New York and Goethe-Institut New York
In Cooperation With Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York and San Francisco, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MIC Music Information Centre Norway, the Consulate General of Finland in New York, the Netherlands Cultural Service, European Commission Programme Culture, ECAS - European Cities of Advanced Sound, Anthology Film Archives, The Bunker, Beyond Booking, The Blackened Music Series, Communikey Festival, Dub War, The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, The Electronic Music Foundation, Eyebeam, Glasslands, Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, ISSUE Project Room, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Percussion Lab