April 29 - April 30
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura
The Visual Electronic Laboratory opens for a fifth showing this year out of Gijón in northern Spain. The idea behind the two day event is pretty self-explanatory: mix electronic music and the visual arts and embrace the synergy. The rather splendid looking "town" of Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura will once again provide the backdrop to the performances, which this year includes the Hyperdub pair of King Midas Sound and Darkstar, drum & bass favourite Photek, German shoegazer Pantha Du Prince and occult Modern Love pair Demdike Stare.
RA pick: Masked producer SBTRKT has a new record on the way. Expect to hear some new tunes during his set.
09. Creamfields Australia
April 23 - April 30
Perth | Melbourne | Sydney
Debuting in Daresubury, a small town in North West England, in 1998, the Creamfields festival has since been exported to over a dozen locations around the world. By the time it arrives in Australia for its second appearance in the country, autumn will be in full effect, so, with any luck, the heatstroke-inducing temperatures of the summer festival season will be nowhere in sight. This year, the "underground" is the minority, but represented well. Two of The Belleville Three—Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May—are set to play together, while Sandwell District will provide their famed take on gritty but emotive techno. Elsewhere on the bill, tech house is supplied courtesy of Tim Green and Umek, and electro house through Deadmau5 and Martin Solveig. It'll all be kicking off with a satellite show at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on April 22nd, after which the tour will move around the country for stadium-sized showings in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
RA pick: It's not often that you'll find two Detroit luminaries as revered as Saunderson and May sharing deck time in Australia.
Gross hyperbole is almost expected when it comes to festival promotion, but there's no false modesty when Mayday tags itself as "the mother of all raves." Like a whistles 'n strobes version of the World Cup, each edition rolls around like clockwork, with a stadium-sized event, tens of thousands of punters and a dedicated theme song. The tune, penned and performed on the night by Members of Mayday, AKA Westbam and Klaus Jankuhn, sets the overall epic trance tone, and this 20th edition will be beefed up with an additional arena for the occasion, where Miss Djax and Blank & Jones are among the names. Elsewhere Paul Van Dyk and Sven Väth will keep spirits high in the main Arena, DJ Rush and Jeff Mills will lead the techno charge in Empire, while Chymera, Butch and a raft of locals plan to scatter all sorts over the remaining areas.
RA pick: Anthony Rother flying the flag for electro.
07. Awakenings Weekender
April 23 - April 24
Day 1 | Day 2
You may think that we show favouritism towards Awakenings—their annual assortment of parties consistently shows up within this feature. But in truth, no one else has managed to stage events at the scale and consistency of the Amsterdam crew since they first set up shop 14 years ago. For their first Weekender of 2011, Awakenings will return to their spiritual home of Gashouder, with (predictably) some of the biggest names in techno. Saturday night is Octave One, Surgeon and DJ Rush; Sunday will be the turn of Josh Wink, Paco Osuna and perennial favourite Adam Beyer, who closes the whole thing out.
RA pick: Look for Surgeon to break up the techno with some dubstep textures.
April 14 - April 17
Although details of Rokolectiv's 6th turn on the festival circuit are still a bit thin on the ground, the Romanian favourite easily coasts into our list on its legacy of quality left-of-centre dance acts and its heavy slant on multimedia art. The handful of artists that have been confirmed should be enough to pique the interest of underground types: there will be spooks aplenty with Zombie Zombie's schlocky horror dance and Demdike Stare's ambient heebie jeebies. Fellow 2010 high achiever Oneohtrix Point Never will piece together one of his intricate analog performances, while Montgomery Clunk will tick the "hotly tipped local talent" box.
RA pick: Elektro Guzzi's highly rated live instrumental techno.
April 13 - April 17
As the blurb surrounding the 4th edition of Boulder, Colorado's Communikey points out, the term "festival" used to mean entire communities coming together for an extended celebration of "food, dance, performance, parade and exploration of cultural traditions." Things have obviously moved on a bit since then—as they also point out, the modern world kind of got in the way—but Communikey will look to reclaim some of this spirit in 2011, even if it's ostensibly just through club events, movies and exhibitions. There's been an overt experimental thread to the festival's programming down the years, and 2011 will see two of electronic music's most forward-thinking minds, Monolake and Atom TM, take to the stage as headliners. Mike Huckaby, Levon Vincent, Emeralds and Chancha Via Circuito are also among those appearing over the five days, while acts like Gamelatron, with their 117-piece electronic gamelan set-up, will keep attendees on their musical toes.
RA pick: Chancha Via Circuito's cumbia digital flavours.
April 4 - April 9
Snowbombing is not for the faint of heart, the adrenaline intolerant or the tragically uncoordinated. With its wacky costumes and novelty facial hair, the long-running alpine rave positively screams "paaaar-tay," and there's plenty of that to be had with five days of tumbling down the slopes and five nights of hobbling around various dance floors. This year's roster is being trumpeted as the festival's strongest lineup yet, and cuts a swathe through this thing we call dance music. Fatboy Slim and Carl Craig's sets will inevitably be logjams, Ramadanman and Magnetic Man will explore opposite ends of the bass spectrum, and then there's The Prodigy and Pendulum's rock fusions or Theo Parrish's rotary fixations. Oh, and what do Space Dimension Controller's disco bling, Ewan Pearson's gentlemanly techno and prog god John Digweed all have in common? Not so much, except they're all appearing at our RA night.
RA Pick: Diggers FTW.
03. Electron Festival
April 21 - April 24
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
One online travel guide described the Jonction district of Geneva as the "epicentre for Geneva's urban hipsters." Right on. Electron will return to the neighbourhood for a sixth time this year, and in the spirit of their previous editions will be offering a lot more than beats. Over four days and 14 venues, attendees will be wrapped up in exhibitions, movie screenings and dance performances, the latter including the Planet Mu Footwork tour. No discernible themes present themselves looking down Electron's music program, although it's more a testament to a quest for variety than a lack of coherence. Of the roughly 50% of the bill who make up the live acts, Nitzer Ebb, Isolee, Kruder & Dorfmeister, John Roberts, Moritz von Oswald and Siriusmo all look to be highlights, while the selectors of note include Agoria, Juan Atkins, Dave Clarke, Instra:mental, Loefah and Andrew Weatherall.
RA pick: DVS1 has been showing he can mix it with techno's biggest names the past 18 months.
April 15 - April 17
Empire Polo Field
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
From the accents you hear walking around Coachella, you might feel like you've somehow landed on the UK/European festival circuit. Which is kind of amazing, considering all those foreign souls have traveled some 5,000 miles just to make the party. It's not hard to see why they come. Coachella is especially good at creating those special festival moments: turning around on the dance floor to see the sun set through a row of palm trees, wandering through lanes of psychedelic art installations, or getting a second wind at nightfall, when the lights flare up and the desert heat subsides. And that's before you even get to the music, which covers everything from Flying Lotus, Kyle Hall and Mount Kimbie to rock acts like Arcade Fire, The Strokes and Animal Collective.
RA pick: There's no better way to beat the heat than an acai-blueberry yerba maté smoothie.
01. Unsound Festival New York
April 6 - April 10
New York, United States
In only its second year, Unsound New York has already emerged as one of the most forward-thinking festivals in electronic music. An offshoot of an event started in Krakow, Unsound New York brings together club sounds both physical and cerebral. This year, for instance, you'll have Octave One, Petar Dundov and Kode9 playing at local haunt Public Assembly, and synth innovators Morton Subotnick, Harald Grosskopf and Alan Howarth spread elsewhere throughout the city. Primed to take advantage of its location, we also hear that the festival plans to offer a tour of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, home to the room-sized RCA Mark II Synthesizer.
RA pick: A rare performance from dark ambient artist Lustmord? Count us in.