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Until it gets posted here, you can read our extensive coverage of Bloc 2011 via Virtual Festivals here

What is it?
Three days of underground sounds strictly from the harder end of the electronic spectrum, Bloc takes no prisoners with their attempt to put on the biggest and best party of the year for the more discerning of dance music fans. Carefully selected acts from electronica’s past and present combine to produce a non-stop, no holds barred event, sporting a line-up that reads like a who’s who of underground techno. Held in a holiday resort rather than a field, you’re not taking any risks with the British weather as much of the on-site accommodation offers the luxury of a kitchen, bathroom and real beds, whilst the venue provides several indoor arenas, bars, restaurants, shops and swimming pools. How many festivals boast a Burger King, Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee, fish and chips, a supermarket, a laundrette, a cinema, ten-pin bowling and even a Splash Waterworld. That’s all before you go anywhere near the sound systems that are crisply pumping out your favourite dubstep snares and the sweetest of 303 acid basslines.

Where and when?

Situated on the North Somerset-Devon border, the coastal town of Minehead backs on to the Exmoor National Park, whilst it’s sandy beaches look out over the Bristol Channel. Bloc 2011 takes over the surprisingly modern feeling Butlins holiday complex right on the seafront from early evening Friday 11th March, pretty much non-stop right through to late Sunday 13th.

Three to watch                                                                                                         

LFO – The pioneering sounds of Mark Bell’s early recordings on the now legendary Warp Records have influenced and shaped the way for a whole generation of electronic artists. Making his first appearance at this festival, it’s inevitable that every Bloc Weekender regular will be piled onto that dancefloor waiting in anticipation for the first hint of ‘We Are Back’.

Matthew Dear – Returning from the US after closing Bloc’s New Year’s Eve bash in London, Matthew Dear’s complex but minimal techno sound is not as in your face as a lot of the acts on show, but his building DJ sets worm their way into your mind and take control of your body.

Ableton RFID Dome – I’ve cheated a bit here, but this year music production software giants Ableton host the ‘Recursive Function Immersive Dome’ – an AV bubble that will host Bloc regulars like DMX Krew, Ceephax, B12 and Mark II from Altern-8 to name but a few. With surround sound comes surround vision – a 360 degree sound and light extravaganza that is going to be revisited again and again over the weekend.

Playing a rare UK festival date

Aphex Twin – Sometimes a bit of a misnomer at festivals, usually because of the lack of understanding from the people that booked him, Cornwall’s Richard D. James brings to the table a long history of experimental and highly innovative recordings for both his own distinct sounding Rephlex Records label, and other such pioneering labels such as Warp and R&S. Bloc is definitely the right place at the right time to see this man though, and with the promise of a special AV set on the cards, there isn’t going to be a single person on site who won’t be itching to see what he has in store for us.
One to miss
Anyone who’s playing too early for me to have fully recovered from the night before…otherwise when am I going to get to slide down the flumes???

Inside tip
– Breaking down barriers, destroying common myths and clichés, and blurring the lines between styles, Shackleton and his Skull Disco partner Appleblim have sat relatively quietly in the corner doing their own thing, taking in all that’s going on around them and coming up with something truly new.

Fashionista or folky?
Folky? It’s likely if you turn up with a guitar trying to do an acoustic set you won’t even hear your own strumming.

Alcohol of choice

Given we’re in Somerset, I’d like to say some well matured home made Scrumpy but I don’t think the surroundings are quite appropriate. With bars open all night it’s much more likely some stiff whiskies will be combined with the occasional medicinal Red Bull, culminating in some very sticky dancefloors.

Can I still get tickets?
Not a chance. Tickets sold out earlier than ever this year, and the chances of finding them anywhere online is about as likely as finding the first pressing of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works’ on vinyl…

This is the preview written for Virtual Festivals originally published here

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