Ten of the best from around the world in October.
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura, Spain
October 25 - October 27
Rising from the ashes of Spain's excellent Mugako Festival is BAU, a new collaboration between Mugako and the team behind Gijón's Lanna Club. The premise is simple yet powerful: two nights at the grand Laboral Ciudad de la Cultural in honour of Gijón's storied techno history, which dates back to the '90s. The lineup skews dark, mean and industrial, with Broken English Club, Blawan and Samuel Kerridge sharing the bill with the likes of Ancient Methods, Regis and Polish newcomer VTSS.
RA Pick: Spanish DJs go down a treat on home soil, so don't miss Selección Natural, AKA Óscar Mulero, Reeko and Exium.
October 23 - October 27
Ekko is a small festival run by a nonprofit. It may sound humble, but every year the team turns the Norwegian city of Bergen into a bubbling hotspot of electronic music. For its 16th year, they've brought together a deep and wide-ranging lineup, tailored for hardcore music nerds. Carla Dal Forno and Sugai Ken share top billing with Lindstrøm. Pioneering drone artists (William Basinski, Ellen Arkbro) rub shoulders with top-notch club acts (DJ Nobu, Ceephax Acid Crew). Then there are the Norwegian artists, many of whom are given pride of place. At Ekko, it's as much about the likes of Karima F, Astrid Sonne and Bergen Techno City Crew as it is about the headliners.
RA Pick: Deathprod plays seriously loud sets that will make you think differently about ambient music.
October 17 - October 20
L.E.V. Festival, a powerful force in Spanish experimental music, books lineups that make similar events look staid. The programming for its second event this year, to be held in a pig slaughterhouse turned cultural center in Madrid, takes in the history and possible futures of outré electronic sound. Buchla pioneer Morton Subotnick will perform a career-spanning show, with help from Lillevan and Alec Empire. The rest of the lineup is stacked with immersive live sets. The likes of Plaid, Alessandro Cortini, Aïsha Devi, DjRUM and HP (Haswell & Powell) fill out a bill comprised entirely of artists carving out their own lane.
RA Pick: Drummer Eli Keszler performing with the brain-melting visual artist (and fellow Oneohtrix Point Never collaborator) Nate Boyce.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Bristol's Simple Things is proof you don't need three days for a big festival. You just need space—and lots of it. Mostly taking place over a single day and night across ten venues, the dizzying event can make scheduling feel like a Herculean task. But it's so worth it. The daytime programme takes place all around the city, with slots this year for Holly Herndon and Ghanaian master Ata Kak. After dark, it's all about the historic Lakota club complex, where big draws like Andrew Weatherall and Avalon Emerson will keep things going till morning.
RA Pick: Laurel Halo back-to-back with Parris should spark some incredible beat science.
Club To Club
October 30 - November 3
Club To Club became Italy's top electronic music festival thanks to a smart booking policy that pairs cutting-edge artists with exciting locations around Turin. This year, the most intriguing spot is La Venaria Reale, a 17th-century former royal residence on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The lineup for Sunday's event at the palace is still TBA, but the action for Lingotto Fiere, Club To Club's cavernous main venue, is locked in, with nighttime sets from James Blake, Floating Points, Skee Mask and more planned for Friday and Saturday.
RA Pick: Slikback from the thrilling Nyege Nyege crew.
October 25 - October 27
Semibreve's knack for maintaining intimacy even as it gains greater international attention underlines an important fact about the Braga festival: no matter how well-known it becomes, it will always feel like a secret treat for its attendees. This is partly due to its stunning venues choices—most notably Braga's beautiful period-era concert hall—but it's the tuned-in local crowds and expertly curated lineups that do the heavy lifting. This year is no exception, with Félicia Atkinson and the dream collaboration of Oren Ambarchi and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe forming just a few highlights.
RA Pick: Drew McDowall's coiled electronics alongside Florence To.
Sheffield, United Kingdom
October 11 - October 13
No Bounds turns three in 2019, but don't let that fool you. It's the product of many more years of hard graft, largely by one man: Liam "Lo Shea" O'Shea. Originally arriving in Sheffield as a student in 1991, O'Shea quickly became hooked on the rave scene, an obsession that's kept him in the Steel City ever since. The festival, which spans two days and three nights, is his largest and most ambitious project yet, with a mix of drone shows and wellbeing workshops, techno raves and light installations, split across eight venues. This year, the main daytime programme moves to Kelham Island Museum, one of Sheffield's most treasured cultural institutions. Hope Works, as ever, will handle the nighttime action, with The Black Madonna, JASSS, dBridge, Auroral Halal, CEM and Nkisi among the many highlights.
RA Pick: The opening concert with Lee Gamble, Lanark Artefax and Caterina Barbieri in the spectacular main hall at Kelham Island Museum.
Hodaigi Camping Ground, Gunma, Japan
October 12 - October 14
In a world where festivals are a dime-a-dozen, The Labyrinth retains a certain mystique. For starters, the well-loved event has its own sound, a style of deep, psychedelic techno that's been perfected over many years by the likes of Donato Dozzy and Peter Van Hoesen, whose long sets at the festival are the stuff of legend. This has, in turn, influenced artists such as Wata Igarashi, who used to work the door. In 2019, The Labyrinth relocates to Hodaigi Camping Ground at the foot of Mount Hotaka, though with a bill that includes Batu, Sandrien and Steve Bicknell, its signature feel should remain intact.
RA Pick: Six years since a tragically cancelled Labyrinth set, Eric Cloutier is getting a (literal) rain-check. Expect him to melt minds.
October 16 - October 20
Amsterdam Dance Event is an annual pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of electronic music fans from around the world. No other event offers such an array of sounds, venues and artists, with even the most obscure tastes covered by lineups that include many of the world's most talented acts. Whether raving at an ice cannon-equipped warehouse or swaying from side to side at a cozy afterhours, ADE offers an experience like no other festival. Expect sets from most of dance music's big names, but don't forget to check out some of the dozens of up-and-comers playing to hyped-up crowds.
RA Pick: Spend Sunday night at Shelter soaking up Zip's elegant house selections.
October 6 - October 13
It's hard to overstate Unsound's impact on the music festival landscape, and modern independent music in general. More than a decade since quietly emerging from Kraków, the week-long event earns plaudits from quarters that usually pay scant attention to niche music gatherings. It has influenced innumerable likeminded events, subtly expanding the global audience for challenging music. It continues to push the envelope this year with Anthony Pateras and festival favourite Eli Keszler. But it's easy to forget just how on-point the club programming has become, with up-to-the minute acts like upsammy and Sherelle (who's going back-to-back Fauzia) joining the blowout at the iconic Hotel Forum.
RA Pick: The Necks teaming up with Ilan Volkov and Sinfonietta Cracovia.
See our full festival listings for October right here.