Unsound Toronto 2016: Day 2

By Anu Guraya, Cover Photo By Alexa Volkov

Ride on the magic school bus! It was around 8:45 and the sun was setting as the school bus (aka Unsound shuttle) made a left turn towards a massive pillar reaching towards the hidden stars. Outside the mammoth Hearn, four women were performing Turkish jams at the Canadian Music stage (which did not have acts performing once the doors to the festival opened) and the moon was glowing above the cityscape against the evening blue and orange hues of the sky.

The lineup to enter moved surprisingly fast; especially considering what I had heard about Saturday. Upon entering I made my way through some art installations, many of which revolved around the manipulation of light (coooooool), and towards the main stage where Alessandro Cortini was warming everyone up. Cortini’s set fulfilled my anticipation, with glorious layers of sounds that felt as though they were resonating through every one of the Heanr’s beams and beyond, to the ~ very edge of space ~. The bass was thundering; I felt my body tremble for the entirety of the performance, which convinced me to go grab some of the free earplugs at the bar body tremble for the entirety of the performance, leading me to the bar to get a hold of some earplugs (earplugs are great and all, but I had to take them out because the dampening of all the sounds took away from my sound wave surfing).

Behind Cortini was a screen that had multiple-exposure videos projected on to it, which complemented his music, but not to the extent that closing my eyes or watching people, tinged blue from the light, wandering the spacious venue did. One of the Hearn’s corridor’s uneven floor was wet from water dripping from four storeys above, giving the space the illusion of being open-air.

I caught the last half of T’ien Lai’s (PL) set in the side room: The faceless musicians wore black tasselled veils (one appeared to have just wrapped a pashmina scarf around his head….perhaps they worship the many-faced God). Their rhythmic, “tribal”music focused heavily on percussion and felt appropriately improvisational. Despite not being my jam, it was interesting (in a good way).

I decided to stay in the side room so I missed both Tim Hecker (CAN) and Hot Shotz. I was intrigued by the duo behind the Hot Shotz project (Powell and Lorenzo Senni) since the internet doesn’t have any recordings of their collaborative work, only their individual projects. Senni (ITL) is inspired by the melodicism of trance (sans catharsis), whereas Powell’s (UK) electronic creations are a rigid and rhythmically sharp techno. It would have made for an interesting collaboration; if anyone was there, please tell me your impressions.

In the side room, I stood elevated on a short beam structure at the back corner to watch people slowly fill the red-tinted room, drawn in by Olivia’s (PL) rhythms. I’m shy, but my body, too, was infiltrated – I wanted to dance. I hesitantly got off my pedestal and made my way towards the stage, keeping near the wall, when a friend spotted me and coaxed me to the edge of the pack. It made my heart happy to see people dancing and truly enjoying themselves and appreciating the music. Little did I know, outside the side room was a lineup of a hundred people anxiously waiting to get inside: “We want to be where YOU came from!” After a teeny break I got back in line and acquainted myself with the folks around me, who seemed impressed by the event and eager to dance to what was pouring through the walls in the side room. By the time we got back in, Aurora Halal (USA) was in the middle of her set. Moving was difficult, and at times the crowd was insurmountable, but people seemed to be having a lot of fun, singing and shouting “ohhhhh” whenever Halal brought back some dirty beats. It was sick.

The changeover was quick, and at 2 AM Ancient Methods (Faroe Islands, DK) played a deep and heavy techno set that strengthened my motivation to work out more in order to be able to have better and more agile control over my body and really jam. That aside, quarters were really tight and my newly-acquainted pals from the line left  to find spaces where they could dance more freely.

The school bus back to Union Station was packed, with ebullient seatmates excitedly exchanging words regarding the sets and the energy generated there that night. Unsound delivered an impeccably curated lineup with innovative art, music, and an electric atmosphere to appeal to anyone with a sense of curiosity and a desire to explore. A little crowded, but definitely worth the time and money. So strap your bones right to the seat. Come on in and don’t be shy!


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