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Bloc 2012: Five must-see acts

With the countdown to Bloc 2012 well and truly on, we have listed our five must-see acts at the festival.

Formerly taking place at Butlins in Minehead, we’re eager to see how the move to London’s freshly opened Pleasure Gardens will change the experience of the festival. The new location, in the shadows of a derelict post-industrial zone – with an ex-communist deep sea fishing vessel providing one of the unique performance spaces – sounds like an intriguing place to sample some of the most exciting producers and DJs of the moment.

The line-up is nothing if not diverse, with headliners such as Snoop Dogg, Orbital and Richie Hawtin and legends such as Gary Numan and Steve Reich, going alongside label showcases from Hyperdub, Numbers and Swamp81. Although techno, house and all ends of the bass spectrum are covered with some of the biggest names from Levon Vincent to Loefah all putting in an appearance, we thought we’d delve into the rich line-up and pick out five of the festival’s more unique propositions.

Steve Reich
Resident Advisor Hub, Friday, 18.00

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise on the Bloc line-up is the appearance of minimalist composer Steve Reich, who will be performing an exclusive UK festival show. Although not instantly the most obvious choice for a festival predominantly made up of dance music – although he was slated to perform at Sonar last year before pulling out for health reasons – Reich’s pioneering work with tape loops in the 1960s and the legacy of his legendary compositions have played a significant role in shaping the contemporary electronic music landscape. Reich has announced the programme for his Bloc performance on his website, and it looks like he’ll be leading the Bang On a Can All Stars ensemble in performances of “2×5”, “Cello Counterpoint”, “New York Counterpoint”, “Nagoya Guitars” and  “Clapping Music”. No “Music For 18 Musicians” unfortunately, but hats off to Bloc for one the boldest bookings in the festival’s history.

Sandwell District
Resident Advisor Hub, Friday, 00.00

With Sandwell District’s label enterprise closing its doors at the beginning of the year, the concept now only exists as a live entity, but freed from any label duties – and given Regis and Function’s legendary skills – we’d expect the focus on performance to be greater than ever. Add to that a recent Boiler Room session that had everyone talking, and you have the most essential techno act on a line-up that’s positively overflowing with the stuff.

Stubnitz Atrium, Saturday, 20.00

Those who have been eagerly devouring the contents of Clone’s recent Drexciya reissues should ensure that they set aside some time to investigate surviving member of the duo Gerald Donald’s Arpanet. Like the oceanographic mythology that surrounded Drexciya, Arpanet comes with its own associations – that of telecoms and information exchange (Arpanet was a predecessor to the modern internet) – and previous shows have included live visuals that tap into these ideas. Until this year the project had only had a live stage airing once before, but the legendary presence of Donald (pictured above as part of his Dopplereffekt guise) should prove reason alone, but with the performance taking place in the steely, industrial confines of the MS Stubniz – this really is unmissable.

Hype Williams
Stubnitz Atrium, Saturday, 00.00

Those who have seen Hype Williams (also known as Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland) performing their unique brand of smudged out synth jams live can consider themselves in a fortunate minority – when they do play in London it tends to be in tiny basement venues to crowds of no more than a few hundred. The reports we’ve heard second-hand suggest the duo maintain on oppressive atmosphere, eschewing any engagement with the crowd through a wall of bass and copious amounts of dry ice, and it sounds like this could be an important part of what purportedly makes seeing them perform either thrilling or just a bit silly depending on your outlook. At Bloc however, they’ll be playing in a much bigger space – and it will be interesting to see how their performance translates.

Resident Advisor Hub, Saturday, 02.15

The Swedish House Mafia may have disbanded, but those who may have felt some twangs of sadness can console themselves in the knowledge that the Berlin Techno Mafia will be arriving to take their place. Obviously that isn’t their real name, but A.T.O.L. – comprised of Shed, Modeselektor and Marcel Dettmann – is probably the ultimate European techno supergroup to date. Claiming to do little or no rehearsal, the quartet have performed together only once in Berlin last year, but given that Modeselektor’s 50Weapons imprint have released records from both Shed and Dettmann in the past year, we’d expect their performance to be comprised of the similarly genre bending techno the label is known for.

Bloc 2012 takes place on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 July 2012.
Weekend tickets cost £99, with individual day tickets costing £55 each, and are available here.
For full details, including full line-up, travel and accomodation information, visit the Bloc website.