Dear Listeners, Joseph here for yet another informal Unsound recap. For those just joing us, these daily posts for paid subscribers are just some roughly edited notes taken during the previous day, which will feed into the review article I eventually write. I’ve also been doing some interviews and making a bunch of field recordings, with the goal of producing an episode of my Sound Propositions podcast akin to the Unsound 2018 episode that launched the project. Looking forward to sharing those down the line, but happy to share a little behind the scenes activity via this newsletter.
My intent was for Day 5 to remain relatively calm, like Day4, as I needed the middle of the festival to recover and gather my energy for the busy weekend. And yet I left first club night at Kamienna 12, an old railyard, around 4:30am, and so I’m once again feeling incredibly sleep deprived and quite delirious.
Like the two previous morning, I kicked things off early with the late morning GORNING MLORY in that awkward medical college lecture hall. Since I was so annoyed by the crowds the previous day, I decided not to show up early, but this time the venue was so crowded that I couldn’t even peak my head into the mezzanine, and was instead confined to the antechamber with many dozens of others. The sound of Julia Reidy’s guitar still reached nonetheless. The Berlin-based Aussie guitarist-composer is known for their intimate dream pop based on unusual tunings, though take that “pop” label with a serious grain of salt. Unusual tunings result in surprising harmonies and drones, textures that are occasionally augmented by the dulcet tone of Reidy’s voice.
I found their set moving and dynamic, yet another example of a contemporary artist using the guitar in ways that manage to transcend the cultural baggage that seems to have led to instrument being a bit out of fashion for the last decade or so, at least in experimental music. I wrote about the trend towards a return to the guitar recently in my review of Giuseppe Ielasi’s latest record, Down On Darkened Meetings. And like that record, Reidy’s latest solo full-length, 2022’s World is World, also appears on Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label. I’ve long been a fan of Black Truffle, and the label seems the right place for the epicenter of guitar-based experimental music, especially since Ambarchi himself never abandoned the guitar in the way that Ielasi did.
Reidy deploys unusual tunings, but not in the style of the open-tuned strummed chords of, for instance, a Joni Mitchell, nor even the “primitive” American fingerstyle of John Fahey. But nor does Reidy obscure the provenance of their sounds in the way that Ielasi or Ambarchi often do. Based on the cover of World is World, Reidy uses a custom fretted guitar to produce semi-tones and atypical intervals. I couldn’t see them perform—as I mentioned I couldn’t even peak my head into the room—but maybe that’s for the best, so I could just absorb the sound and not worry about how they were produced.