Bloc 2012 - 10 to watch
- By Nik Jeffries -
- Jun 25, 2012
Bloc is a new addition to London’s summer festival schedule, having moved site from the Minehead Butlins to the utterly unique London Pleasure Gardens. Now in its sixth year Bloc has built a reputation as being Britain’s most forward thinking electronic music festival. This year proves no different with a stunning line up and a stage in the moored MS Stubnitz - a two and half thousand tonne decommissioned communist deep sea fishing vessel…
Here’s a rundown of ten acts we recommended checking out:
“Legendary” would just about sum up Orbital. Veterans of the UK acid house scene in the late 80s, they took the sound from the M25 parties to the world stage combining elements of techno and live improvisation. Frequently cited as “one of those Glastonbury moments” - who else could get away with covering the Dr. Who theme and getting thousands dancing in the process? Recently revitalized with this year’s album ‘Wonky’, they will surely be a live act not to be missed.
A man who needs no introduction. A pivotal player along with Dre in the West Coast scene, he’s part Rap God, part pop culture celebrity. His twenty year career has assured him as one of the most distinctive voices in Hip Hop, and who are we to argue with that?
The original Man-Machine… Gary Numan may have been contemporaries of The Human League and Depeche Mode, producing classics like ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’ but his own take on the Kraftwerk indebted synth pop sound was always a lot darker and post-punk inspired. In the subsequent thirty years he’s melded goth, techno and abstract electronica influences into his idiosyncratic musical persona. A legend in his own right.
Realistically modern electronic music would sound incredibly different if it were not for contemporary classical musician Steve Reich. A trailblazer in the use of tape loop compositions, his iconic repetitive, overlapping rhythmic figures on ‘Music for 18 Musicians’ set the blueprint for what is now termed “minimalist” music. His hypnotic and experimental work will be performed by the acclaimed Bang On a Can Allstars ensemble. Celebrating his 75th birthday this year his performance will prove utterly unmissable.
Another minimalist pioneer, Chilean producer Ricardo Villalobos, along with Richie Hawtin, is one of the most significant names in minimal techno. Voted twice by Resident Advisor as number one in their Top 100 DJ of the Year poll. Always performing deep, experimental and engrossing sets his Bloc performance will no doubt be something to savour.
In the six years since his debut ‘1983’ FlyLo has not put a foot wrong. His sharp ascent to the top of any critic poll worth listening to is down to his unending ability to channel elements of hip hop, avant jazz and bass music into a totally unique and psychedelic form of electronica. Signed to Warp he’s also collaborated with a diverse array of artists including Thom Yorke. A true auteur, his work is ambitious, complex and fundamentally quite unlike anything else you’ve heard before. Essential.
Mathematical. Technical. Labyrinthine. These are all adjectives that could surmise Battles’ patented form of angular post-rock dynamics. But to do so, however accurate, would somewhat miss the point. Battles have proved themselves time and time again to be both cerebral but with the gut wrenching dynamism lacking from their piers. A juggernaut live, they may even invite fellow festival attendee Gary Numan on stage…
London born/Long Island raised DOOM models his persona on the Marvel comics super villain Dr Doom. A mainstay on the scene since the late 80s - his high profile mid 00s collaborations with Madlib (Madvillain) and Danger Mouse (Dangerdoom) brought him to the fore. His live performances are now a thing of legend; his set will no doubt prove to be erratically volatile. Without a doubt one of the most unique voices in underground Hip Hop.
Precociously talented 22 year old Ivy league student Nicolas Jaar produced one of 2011’s finest albums ‘Space Is Only Noise’ - A beautifully unique and off kilter future-soul masterpiece. Where his pier James Blake was indebted to a post dub-step sound, Jaar’s house and techno influences were pointedly slowed down until the intentionally created space spoke as much as his emotional vocals. His recent BBC 1 Essential Mix was epic, soul searching and charged… his Bloc set is highly anticipated.
‘R.I.P’ is already a strong contender for album of the year. A beautifully meditative mood piece, it betrays it’s experimental techno roots with an emotional resonance akin to golden era Aphex Twin. His deliberate lo-fi aesthetic is a magnet for a disparate set of influences, each drawn to breaking point so that it becomes an amalgam of something new, something utterly unique.
Bloc is at the London Pleasure Gardens on 6 & 7 July. Tickets can be purchased here.
This guest blog complies to Virgin.com terms & conditions.