Although its been four whole years since we were last at Butlins Minehead for Bloc, its not until we got here for this year’s highly anticipated return that we fully realised what we’d been missing. A beautifully twisted subversion of the classic British seaside getaway, its winning combo of bad weather, worse food and amazing music has been conspicuously absent from our lives for far too long. With the organisers putting together an emphatic comeback line up for this weekend’s festivities at Minehead – its easy to be overwhelmed by the musical buffet on offer. Thankfully though as ever we’re on hand to point you in the right direction – so with no further ado, here are our picks for a weekend to remember….
Saturday: Carhartt 22.00 – 23.00
Whilst its approach to interior design may be borrowed heavily from the aesthetic of graffiti covered men’s loos the world over, Hamburg’s Golden Pudel has an admirably open minded outlook to musical programming that belies its modest appearance. Much of that is down to resident Helena Hauff, who has been building up a fearsome reputation behind the decks through sets that take in everything from searingly distorted Acid to 80’s Belgian anarcho Punk. With her DJ’ing gigs taking her all around Europe – including a recent set for Daniel Avery’s Divided Love in fabric Room 1, her production career is starting to pick up pace too – check out her downcast and occasionally deranged ‘Lex Tertia’ EP for Werkdiscs out at the end of the month for proof of her skills in that realm.
Bodyhammer: Joe Hart, Scott Fraser & Charlie Bennett
Friday: Carhartt – 06:00 – 10:00
A long-running London party helmed by World Unknown resident and friend of Bloc Joe Hart, Body Hammer regularly provides the capital with a dose of dark electronic experiments, from gloopy Acid and steely Techno, through to weird Italo and beyond. In his own words “a good old fashioned Chicago jack party for those that know or can be bothered to find it.” Joe, along with pals and seasoned selectors Scott Fraser and Charlie Bennett, will close the Carhartt stage on Friday night/Saturday morning with a bang.
Friday: Centre 23.00 – 00.30
Few bands have aged as flawlessly as ESG – who continue to influence well over thirty years since forming. The South Bronx sisters can legitimately claim to be precursors to genres as diverse as Post-Punk, Hip Hop and Electro – with the long list of artists that have sampled them testament to their wide ranging appeal. Set to bring their unique style to the dance on opening night – you’d be well advised to bask in the talent of genuine legends.
Friday: Carhartt 01:00 – 02:00
Hodge has come along way since recording his Hyp Mix back in 2012, with his impressive discography now spanning the likes of Hemlock, Tempa, Berceuse Heroique and Punch Drunk. A firm favourite of ours, his textbook style and boundless energy are always a pleasure to witness when he’s djing, and his set at Bloc feels somewhat pivotal as he continues through what’s set to be his biggest year to date. A unique Producer and DJ finally getting the wider recognition he deserves after years of honing his craft.
Sunday: Red 00.00 – 01.00
With the theme ‘Jungle Is Massive’ attached to this year’s Bloc, you could reasonably expected to expect a certain type of artist to grace the 1’s and 2’s at Minehead. Dillinja is just that type of artist. We could wax lyrical about how his uniquely visceral basslines helped transition Jungle into Drum and Bass or tell you about the time we nearly went deaf at a Valve night, but instead we’ll just leave you with this, this and this. And this….and this.
Ben Sims b2b DVS1
Saturday: Red 03.30 – 05.00
Asides from both being ermm ‘follically challenged’, Ben Sims and Zak Khutoretsky share the distinction of being amongst the finest Techno DJ’s in the world. For the many die-hard fans of the two set to descend on Minehead, there will be little need to hype this one up – although DVS1’s claim that we can expect, “2 DJs, 2 mixers, 6 decks and a “just go for it” vibe” certainly got us excited.
Saturday: Pub 23.00 – 00.oo
On a line up that leans ever so slightly towards the harder end of the spectrum, at Bloc 2015 every ray of musical sunshine should be held up and treasured. Sure to be emitting a healthy helping of sonic sunbeams will be Bristol’s Shanti Celeste – who’s above session for Resident Advisor was a sleeper contender for the best mix of last year. Blessed with an effortless slight of hand and a record collection laden with gems, her set is sure to go down a treat in the festival’s intimate ‘Pub’ space.
Saturday: Carhartt 04.00 – 05.00
One person who certainly won’t be brightening up anyone’s day on Saturday is Lee Gamble. We’re only just starting to climb out the fathoms deep musical rabit hole that was last year’s ‘KOCH’, and there’s every chance that his appearance in the middle of the night is going to be just as heady an affair. Perfect music to dance to eyes half closed, there’s always the chance that Gamble’s irreverent sense of humor (see his often amusing Facebook page), could manifest itself in his selections.
Sunday: Jak 21.00 – 22.30
Smack bang in the middle of veteran promoters I Love Acid’s unsurprisingly 303 centric line up on Sunday evening is the man to which they and all the names they’ve booked owe their careers. Able to proudly proclaim himself as the inventor of Acid House alongside his colleagues in Phuture (with whom he plays the Centre Stage on Friday), the Windy City artist has enjoyed a long and fruitful career since starting out at the beginning of the 90’s – and has continued to release music up until the present day. Certain to come laden with classics – if the Boiler Room set above is anything to go by it appears he’s also kept one ear to the ground for new releases.
Sunday: Centre 18.00 – 19.30
At an institution as esteemed as Ostgut Ton, its not hard to fly under the radar. Surrounded by the world renowned likes of Marcel Dettmann, Ben Klock and Ryan Elliott (who join him at Centre stage on the festival’s final day), label manager Nick Höppner has largely been tagged as the most underrated of a talented bunch for the best part of nearly a decade. Long respected for his DJ’ing chops by those in the know, he’s soon set to receive similar respect for his production – with the imminent release of his excellent debut ‘Folk’, a record that we’re certain is going to land on more than a few end of year lists come December time. Guaranteed to bring the spirit of Panorama Bar to the English coastline, his set will be the melodious and hip shaking amuse-bouche for the meaty Techno session that’s to follow on Sunday.
London Modular – Live Modular Jam
Saturday: Jak 05.00 – 06.00
Ever since we caught the London Modular crew jamming with Untold in the darkened back room at the V&A last year, we were hooked. Sure the vast banks of hardware and the webs of wires appear headspinningly complicated, but you don’t have to be a tech-nerd to appreciate the thrilling spectacle they play a part in. Having hosted several of their acclaimed revues at Bloc’s new Autumn Street home, they’ve been given control of the Jak stage for the duration on Saturday – inviting the likes of Appleblim, DeFeKT and Freerotation organisers Steevio & Suzybee to play. With the whole evening culminating in a mammoth modular jam in the wee hours of the morning, its safe to say we know where we’ll be come the end of Saturday night.
Saturday: FACT 20.00 – 21.00
The closest thing to sex in musical form – short of anything released on Pornhub’s ridiculous new record label, Egyptian Lover wears the legend tag very well. Most of the reasons as to why we’re looking forward to him are outlined in our interview with him from last month – although if you need further proof of why its Egyptian Lover you should be dancing to at 8pm come Saturday, just watch him smashing out Electro-filled heaters above.
Saturday: FACT 21.00 – 22.30
Following on from the aforementioned Egyptian Lover and rounding off a bonkers three and a half hour stretch that begins with the not exactly party adverse Space Dimension Controller, is none other than DJ Funk. As much a part of the Bloc experience as playing Time Crisis or exclusively eating at Burger King, Dance Mania hero DJ Funk is guaranteed to inspire all manner of lewd and distinctly unprintable antics from his fans. With his most celebrated hits bearing names like ‘Booty Clap’ and ‘Pussy Ride’ you can rest assured there will be no subtlety whatsoever on display here.
Friday: Jak 02.00 – 03.30
Whilst there’s no shortage of Acid or Electro at Butlins this weekend, its clear to us that few serve it up better than Radioactive Man. The connoisseur’s choice, Keith Tenniswood has been doing this for nearly 15 years – and continues to expertly walk the tightrope between forward facing and Old School with his sets.
Sunday: Red 22.00 – 23.00
The Blackest Ever Black mainstays may have been quiet on the production front for sometime now, although they remain two of the most exciting DJ’s around. With the above Boiler Room session somehow blending in Danny Weed alongside Demdike Stare, its clear that its anyone’s guess what will be dropped when Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews are on the 1 and 2. Playing one of the festival’s last sets at the special Jungle stage on Sunday, you’d be inclined to expect the breaks that propelled their early EP’s to make an appearance – although you can never be sure with these two.