10. Iceland Airwaves
October 31 - November 4
Iceland Airways has been bringing a mixture of electronic and indie names to Reykjavik, the country's capital and largest city, for almost 15 years. In 2012, artists from all across Europe and the US have been enlisted to appear at various types of spaces around town, with Austrian outfit Elektro Guzzi, London-based MC and producer Ghostpoet and singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf among those confirmed. A hefty local contingent also appears—Australian-born experimentalist Ben Frost, Kompakt-approved groups Sigur Ros and electro pop trio Gus Gus among them. It's all set to go down over five days from October 31st, so if you're one of the 6,000 to have snagged tickets to the sold out festivities, you have potentially 50-plus hours of musical adventures ahead of you.
RA pick: Any chance to catch live techno three-piece Elektro Guzzi do their thing should be taken.
09. Treasure Island
October 13 - October 14
San Francisco, USA
Day One | Day Two
Treasure Island takes on the manmade island of the same name in the San Francisco Bay for two days, a remote location that gives it the adventurous feel of a camping festival while still within the city limits. The event has a 60-foot Ferris Wheel from which to look over the workshops, arts & crafts and silent disco below. But the focus is, of course, on the music. Things are a mix of electronic and indie, with vocal-heavy acts like SBTRKT and Matthew Dear rubbing shoulders with global stars like Public Enemy, Joanna Newsom and The xx.
RA pick: M83, whose shoegaze operas seems ripe for outdoor festivals.
08. Bónusz Electronic Music Festival
The Hungarian Time Warp? We don't see it as too much of a stretch to describe Bónusz Electronic in such terms. The single night event is staged in Budapest's gigantic Hungexpo centre, with four arenas (notice we didn't use the word rooms) filled with sounds befitting of such a large-scale environment. With the momentum of his weekly ENTER party at Space in Ibiza behind him, Richie Hawtin's headlining set in the main space should represent the evening's star attraction; Loco Dice, Chris Liebing and DJ Rush also get turns to warm the line arrays with techno transmissions. Bloody Beetroots, James Zabiela and Max Cooper should also draw a crowd among the remainder of the lineup.
RA pick: Slam providing further intensity in the main space with a live set.
October 5 - October 20
The current climate of cross genre pollination is by no means limited to offshoots of the so-called hardcore continuum. A sound case in point is Ether, which shows that the worlds of contemporary classical and electronic music have become increasingly comfortable in each other's company in recent years. The festival takes place at London's world famous Southbank Centre, presenting a thought-provoking assembly of "innovation, art, technology and cross-arts experimentation." RA will be hosting an evening of music on October 13th, with Mount Kimbie, Raime, Bass Clef, Ekoplekz and Airhead all looking to work unique aural angles. Meanwhile, The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, Apparat, Tyondai Braxton and Christian Marclay all headline shows over the two week programme.
RA pick: Raime's A/V show in the venue's Purcell Room will serve as its world premiere.
September 29 - October 7
Various Cities, Australia
Brisbane | Sydney | Perth | Melbourne | Adelaide
While festivalgoers in the northern hemisphere start to scurry indoors, the season in Australia gets underway with one of its biggest and best offerings. Parklife will return for a 13th time this year, putting into action its usual format of a five city tour across the space of roughly a week. Riverstage in Brisbane will stage the inaugural event on September 29th, with the whole thing reaching a finale on October 7th at Botanic Park in Adelaide. While we can't promise any of the utopian nudist colony vibes of Parklife's artwork, attendees should expect acts like Justice, The Presets, Benga, Art Department and Lee Foss entertaining amidst grass, tents and impressive outdoor stages.
RA pick: Jacques Lu Cont: We'd be keen to see what one of the '00's biggest production names is up to these days.
05. Movement Torino
In the mid-'00s, Detroit's much-loved Movement festival made its way to Italy, setting up a franchise in Torino with the help of a few key hometown promoters, and has remained there ever since. The programme of the event has been shape shifting year-on-year (multiple venues, differing lengths of the festival), but has been chiefly based on gargantuan events at the city's Pala Olimpico Isozaki. The lineup each year thusly caters to big room crowds, and the 2012 edition is no different. Chris Liebing, 2 Many DJs and Maceo Plex will each step up for slots, as will Derrick May, who's played at almost every edition since the festival arrived in the north Italian city.
RA pick: Berlin house veteran Dixon squaring up to a room packed with several thousand Italians should have interesting results.
04. VIA Festival
October 1 - October 8
Pittsburgh's city-wide music and visual arts takeover comes back for a third year. The 2012 edition will start on a Monday and go all the way through to Saturday night, commandeering a variety of spaces including art galleries, a university, and other pop-up event spaces for a diverse series of events including workshops, exhibitions, and of course, musical performances at a number of the city's best venues (with an emphasis on visual accompaniment). The lineup this year is as diverse as ever, including Tiger & Woods, Laurel Halo, Girl Unit, a healthy emphasis on the electronic with more than a few danceable moments.
RA pick: Andy Stott's sludgy electronics.
October 24 - October 28
Dom im Berg
There's no venue in the world like Dom Im Berg, and there's no festival like Elevate. Pairing advanced (but still highly danceable) electronic music and highbrow (but still highly accessible) panel discussions on a range of subjects, Elevate is held inside a mountain. They've carved out some spaces of course—most notably a cave near the top—but it still maintains the feeling that you're inside somewhere just a bit wondrous. The music selection helps add to this sensation: This year's announced lineup includes Kevin Martin (The Bug), Roly Porter, Skudge and A Made Up Sound. Noam Chomsky, on the other side of things, will provide a "video message." As RA's Todd L. Burns put it last year, it may not be the best festival in the world, but it's definitely "something worth seeing at least once."
RA pick: Whether it's A Made Up Sound or 2562 that's playing the tunes, it's sure to be good.
October 14 - October 21
Is the tenth edition of Krakow's Unsound Festival the end, as its theme this year suggests? Or is it just playing with the current feeling of dread in the air? Festival curator Mat Schulz loves to play with expectations. And so do the artists he has booked for the past decade. The uncompromising event regularly looks to present new collaborations—this year features Demdike Stare & Sinfonietta Cracovia, Hieroglyphic Being & Ital and Tim Hecker & Oneohtrix Point Never—as well as straight-up curveballs: Porn star Sasha Grey's noise project aTelecine will play their debut live show. With The Caretaker taking on his V/VM guise, Shackleton, Theo Parrish and Traxman—among many others—also set to appear, it'd be hard to stomach if Unsound disappeared from the festival landscape. But what a note to go out on, eh?
RA pick: Holly Herndon's upcoming RVNG debut is excellent. See if her live show lives up to the record's promise.
01. Amsterdam Dance Event
October 17 - October 21
The Amsterdam Dance Event is quite simply the biggest and best of its kind. Starting out in 1996 with 300 delegates and 30 DJs playing across three venues, last year's edition welcomed "3,000 business professionals and 140,000 festival visitors" with 800 acts spread across 52 venues. The numbers are impressive, but ADE has never been about scale. The event's wholesale integration within its host city—easily one of the most beautiful and relaxed in Europe—is seamless, making for a wide-ranging weekend you can take at your own pace. The conference proper boasts five days of panels, workshops, demonstrations and discussions, while the night time parties—which again feel very much in tandem with the event rather than in competition—are almost overwhelming in their scope. Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Pearson Sound, Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin are just a drop in the ocean of acts performing for 2012.
RA pick: DJ Harvey. Andrew Weatherall. Back-to-back. RA VS. Trouw. Saturday.