A Guide To Unsound Toronto 2016

By Anu Guraya & Stuart Oakes

Entrancing experimental sonic landscapes span June 10th and 11th for Unsound Toronto 2016. Unsound is an electronic music initiative with headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, and sister projects in New York, Prague, London, Kiev, and Adelaide, among others. In Toronto, it runs under the umbrella of Luminato’s global multi-arts festival (June 10th-26th), effectively making it a festival within a festival. Twenty artists from around the world will perform on two different stages at the Hearn Generating Station – a colossal structure, triple the size of Tate Modern, that was decommissioned in 1983. Curated for this year’s Unsound are a range of experimental electronic projects that include Canadian Tim Hecker (who’s toured with Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Ros, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and UK producer Evian Christ (who has worked with Four Tet, Kanye West, and Purity Ring).

Here are some names to watch for if you are attending the show, and artists to check out even if you aren’t. Tickets are available here ($25 per night). Doors open at 9pm. The full lineup is available at the bottom of the page.

Friday, June 10th

The Bug w/ Flowdan & Miss Red (Main Stage, 1:20am) – There are some massive names headlining the first night of Unsound, including legendary Seattle drone-metal band sunn O))) (main stage, 11:45pm) and one of the founders of Chicago footwork, RP Boo (side room, 2am). The one I am most excited for, however, is The Bug, UK producer Kevin Martin’s bass/dancehall/dub project. Expect plenty of foreboding, menace, and crushing bass; this is perhaps the heaviest, most claustrophobic electronic music to come out of an early ’00s UK that was generally rife with claustrophobiaforeboding, and menace.



Elysia Crampton (Side Room, 10pm) – Elysia Crampton opens the festival, so you had better show up early. The Quietus described the project as “uncategorisable electronic music exploring trans experience and geography.” I’m quoting because I can’t do any better than that. The pieces are visceral, thoughtful sound collages that find space for both Lil’ Jon and “loping triplet cadence from Andean huayño—a nod both to Crampton’s Bolivian roots and to her time in Mexico, where she delved into huayño andcumbia via the local tribal guarachero—and…counter-rhythms…from the unsteady pulsing of crickets” (Pitchfork) (on the same track, no less). This is not easy listening – I would recommend an interview or two first, so you can contextualize things a little bit – but it is fascinating. I’m really excited to experience it IRL.



Lotic (Side Room, 12am) – Lotic is a queer, black American producer living in Berlin who makes you hurt, and then makes you dance, and then makes you dance through the pain until the two feelings become indistinguishable. In a similar vein, I would recommend Arca [link NSFW, CW: nudity], RabitDJ Marfox, and Rizzla. Please listen to all of those and spread the good word.

[NSFW, CW: nudity]



Saturday, June 11th

Alessandro Cortini (Main Stage, 9:30pm) – Streams of looping melodic sounds collect, depositing into an intriguingly somber and metallic delta. Those who listen will be entranced, captivated by a journey through the fine ubiquitous dust surrounding fully-breathing and distorting synth sounds. Besides his work with Nine Inch Nails – the Italian producer toured with the band from 2004-2008 and contributed to Ghosts I-IV before rejoining the industrial legends in 2013 – Cortini has a penchant for industrial-influenced minimalistic experimental music. The main stage will be prep’d at 9:30pm for an eerie, hypnotic soundscape perfect for night-dreaming.



Ancient Methods (Side Room, 2am) – The Hearn’s industrial atmosphere means that the space is a prime rhythmically driven, EBM-inspired techno haven; anticipate Ancient Methods’ (Faroe Islands, DK) dark, angular, and pounding techno frequencies to charge you back up at 2am in the side room.



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One Response to “A Guide To Unsound Toronto 2016”
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  1. […] I missed Elysia Crampton. [Photographer] Alexa and I spent a while wandering through Union Station trying to find the […]

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