Unsound, the experimental sound concert series that ran annually in the Adelaide Festival until 2017 will return this November in an expanded, annual format.
Ex-Adelaide Festival director David Sefton has announced that Unsound Adelaide will return this year thanks to its “established, loyal and enthusiastic audience.” Sefton also tells The Adelaide Review that the program is set to be “greatly expanded” with a three- or four-night core musical program at the Thebarton Theatre, a series of talks at the Hawke Centre, a free sound exhibition at the Adelaide Botanic Garden, and “almost certainly” a new showing of DJs in local clubs.
“We started talking pretty much as soon as I left the Adelaide Festival about the possibility of bringing it back, and it’s obviously taken a while to pull everything together, but we’re all set now,” says Sefton.
Demand for the Unsound program has been high since its disappearance from Adelaide’s arts calendar when Sefton finished his tenure as Adelaide Festival’s artistic director. Sefton jokes that he “could barely leave the house without someone pleading to bring Unsound back” and says outside of the “great artistic and critical achievement” that Unsound was, the strongest driving force for its return “was the deeply gratifying response it got from the local music community.”
“There have been a few things that have referenced Unsound,” he says. “There was a thing called Bungsound at Ancient World which was a shameless and open tribute to us, and the most recent one was Dark Matter at the Adelaide Gaol — I saw it in the Umbrella brochure, ‘filling the gap left by Unsound’, and when I saw that I said, ‘well that gap’s not going to be there much longer!’”
Asked whether he was disappointed to see that Unsound wasn’t included in Adelaide Festival’s program, Sefton says no.
“The whole thing about having a succession of festival directors is that next ones come in with completely different views,” he says. “Obviously, a lot of the audience might not understand that it’s a different person, or in this case, people in charge. I think there were a lot of puzzled people when they made the announcement at last year’s festival, but it’s clear that that’s just not their world.”
Sefton goes on to explain what this year’s festival will entail:
“We’ll have the music program in the Thebby, which will be three or possibly four nights this time, as opposed to two nights as in the Adelaide Festival… We’re doing a sound art exhibition in the Botanic Garden and a talks program at the Hawke Centre with UniSA, and there’s almost certainly going to be a DJ and club program that will run after the Thebby on the Friday and Saturday night.”
Babyfather performed at the Thebarton Theatre for Unsound in 2016
Asked if the clubs program signals a shift to the mainstream, and whether audiences should expect big name DJs in the festival, Sefton says that Unsound has always contained an aspect of club culture, but that the mainstream isn’t where he’s aiming to position the festival.
“There always was a nod to that world and the mix always had quite a lot of club culture, but you know, the more interesting end of club culture,” he says. “[The artists] are big names in the world we circulate in, but you’re unlikely to see Skrillex in Unsound, to be honest. We’re not going down that road.”
Sefton’s lips are sealed when it comes to announcing any major acts just yet, but lets slip a few details on the public sound art exhibition at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
“It’s an exhibition of site-specific sound installations in the big greenhouse,” he says. “We’re looking at four different artists for that, in opposite corners of the green house. It’ll be free admission throughout the festival and run from the 16th to the 19th of November throughout the park’s opening hours.”
Unsound’s program will be announced in coming weeks.