Unsound has built a deserved reputation for championing experimental sonics, platforming artists beyond the mainstream.
Chosen for: Innovation.
Unsound is an annual, week-long celebration of contemporary electronic music that takes place in multiple venues across Kraków. The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, growing in stature from the very first edition where the artists were “thrown out of a club for playing music that was too weird for regular patrons”. That willingness to embrace innovative scenes and radical sounds is still very much at the heart of this influential festival, which has become a go-to for serious music fans eager to take in a range of avant-garde sonics in memorable settings.
Unsound’s reputation for inventive programming is unparalleled, and its global reach is equally formidable, with regular events taking place in New York, Adelaide, Toronto and London alongside the main festival offering. A core motivation of the organisers has always been to promote artists from all over the world, with a particular focus on post-Soviet countries, working with musicians and curators to bridge the gap between east and west.
Alongside its adventurous line-ups, Unsound also offers an immersive introduction to many of Kraków’s lesser-known venues and spaces. Over the years performances have taken place in opera houses, abandoned hotels and synagogues, as well as disused spaces and Soviet-era buildings far removed from the city’s tourist hotspots. Pioneers, such as the late SOPHIE, have performed in the main room of Hotel Forum, and Burial once played inside a salt mine. The venues have, in the past, elevated the performances and created unforgettable moments that are unique to Unsound.
Another highlight is the opportunity to see world premieres of new works, as well as one-off concerts and productions that are developed specifically for the festival. The event has gained a reputation for successfully implementing a thought-provoking programme of talks each year, one that creates intrigue rather than feels like an aside to the music. The festival has experienced numerous challenges as of late – from gentrification to a post-pandemic climate and now the ongoing war in neighbouring Ukraine. Some of its most iconic venues are no longer a part of the event, which has altered the festival experience. However, Unsound continues to evolve and adapt its themes and working model, making it an ever-changing experience that offers new rewards year after year.
Unsound takes place annually in Kraków, Poland. Dates are yet to be announced.