Steve Davis on Autechre and DJing at Bloc Weekend

Album art for Autechre's Exai

Kavus Torabi and I recently had the amazing experience of DJing at the last ever Bloc Weekend at Butlins in Minehead.

BBC iPlayer did a fly on the wall mini-documentary about our involvement for posterity. For those of you not aware of this legendary event, then I suppose Bloc could be described, by all intents and purposes, as the thinking person’s electronic music festival. Anybody who has been somebody in the world of ones and zeroes has played there, and while we were extremely late newcomers to the party, it’s a great pity that Bloc is no longer.

We got to meet up once again with Techno Titan Anthony Child (aka Surgeon) whose set with co-pilot Blawan was astonishing. I was also lucky enough to meet with Holly Herndon for an interview the morning after she’d blown the main stage apart with her innovative, interactive set. Other notable performances came from Floating Points, Thom Yorke and the amazing Appleblim & Second Storey. It was impossible to catch every artist as there were six stages each evening but all tastes of electrickery were catered for. However, the biggest surprise of the weekend for us was an unexpected meeting with even more royalty in the shape of an incognito Rob Brown from Autechre.

Now, I loved prog music back in the day and it’s still great to listen to the likes of Gentle Giant, Hatfield And The North and Soft Machine, however, I find it increasingly difficult to be inspired by new bands currently making Prog with a capital “P”, especially when there are so many artists (in my humble opinion) making more challenging music. You may, and probably will, chose to differ and good on you!

Regardless, have a think about this. Kavus, in a moment of appreciation aimed towards one half of the best ever exports from Rochdale, exclaimed: “Rob, Autechre are a modern-day Stravinsky!” On May 29, 103 years ago, Igor Stravinsky (bless his cotton conductor’s gloves) was derided by the cognoscenti when he unleashed The Rite Of Spring on a unsuspecting, musically hamstrung audience.

Nowadays Stravinsky’s work is considered one of the most astonishing classical works of the 20th century.
What does this lesson from history tell us?

I haven’t got a bloody clue but don’t be surprised when your grandchildren visit you in the old people’s home and start raving about Autechre’s last (to date) album Exai and you have to painfully sit there and pretend you’ve always liked it just to look hip with your new hip!

By all means listen to A Trick Of The Tail but maybe occasionally explore alternatives, old and new, like Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring and Autechre’s Exai?

Catch Steve’s Interesting Alternative Radio Show every Monday 10pm-midnight at Phoenix FM