The summer's most exciting event in London will soon be upon us and no, Olympics, it isn't you.
A presence at Minehead’s Butlins Resort for the last few years Bloc, like the frustrated wife of a country Baron, has upped sticks and eloped for the bright lights of the big city.
The West Country's loss is our gain — Bloc, alongside Sonar in Barcelona and Dimensions in Croatia, surely ranks among Europes premier electronic music festivals. An all-star line up descends on East London's Pleasure Gardens for two days, an eclectic bill of artists striving for new frontiers in electronic music's hinterlands. The setting also deserves a mention, an industrial complex bordering the Thames and featuring an 80 foot German tanker on which to rave the night away. Also Snoop Dogg is playing!?! From a line-up that's stuffed with more gems than a Damien Hurst skull, here are our five to watch over an unmissable two days.
It seems odd now that when Darren Cunningham emerged with his "Hazyville" record in 2008 he was lumped in with the nascent dubstep scene. Since then, it's become clear that his work inhabits its own space entirely, one impossible to neatly categorise and file away. His 2010 album "Splazsch" seemed to mark his true arrival, an album of sparkling electronic innovation, bedding subversive techno moves in a lo-fi analogue haze. Critics didn't know how to categorize this new sound, some like The Wire dubbed it the greatest album of the year. The title of his new acclaimed album R.I.P. is misleading, offering not death but the birth of a brave new sound. Pity the fool who tries to emulate it.
If you've had even a fleeting interest in rap's underground over the past decade you'll probably have come across Daniel Dumile, better known as MF DOOM, Viktor Vaughan or King Geedorah, and now officially plying his wares as Doom. Doom has spouted an exotic verbiage that changes subject matter as often he changes aliases. From hamburgers to superheroes, to analyzing relationship breakdowns and the blight of 21st century America — Doom provides a barrage of inspired non-sequiturs and dada-esque humour. His live perfomances are often hit and miss affairs, but even after hip hop's recent overdue drift into the leftfield there's none who offer his mix of the bathetic and the bizarre.
At 21 most guys would be happy with a pair of Beats and the ability to grow a passable moustache. Nicolas Jaar is not most guys. Still a student at Brown University, the young Chilean also likes to play at being one of the world's most exciting musicians. He dubs his sound "bluewave", a self effacing moniker for his eclectic blend of world music sounds, jazz strains and muted house thumps. Last years "Space Is Only Noise" coalesced his disparate ideas into a outstanding album, one that rewards with each new listen. His brilliant sellout set at the Roundhouse this year gave a clue what we can expect this weekend, heavy on atmosphere and wielding bass drops like weapons.
Not every act at Bloc needs to be quite so cerebral. Hailing from the Welsh valleys, Jamie Jones has emerged as one of the world's premier good-time party starters. He produces an infectiously sensual house music — funky house without being "funky house". It's a sound he further heads with his label Hot Creations, behind some of the biggest house tracks of recent years. Last year was a great one for the Welshman, with a Fabric mix CD and Resident Advisor placing him at #1 in their DJs of the year poll. With a new album "Tracks from the Crypt" on the horizon, see if he can top that this weekend.
Watch is very much the operative word here as Amon Tobin brings his audiovisual extravaganza ISAM to our shores. The set offers a constantly shifting 3-D art installation to compliment the Brazilian producer's uniquely cinematic sounds. It moves things away from the jazz-infused breakbeats with which he made his name to what he has dubbed a "Sound Sculpture", with field recordings and Tobin's own sampled voice submerged in the heady mix. In the cavernous surroundings of the Royal London Docks, expect the sensation to be heightened tenfold.
Bloc.2012, 6-7 July at London Pleasure Gardens. More information is available here.
Image used with permission.