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PREVIEW: Merge Festival
Alex Ogg , September 16th, 2013 13:16

Alex Ogg gives us a rundown of this year's event at the annual Bankside celebration, which begins this Thursday

All festival-ed out? The third annual Merge event in London offers something a little off-piste, celebrating the history and culture of Bankside, historically home to London’s bear pits, playhouses and prisons. The full programme includes exhibitions, performances and sundry other events but of interest to music fans might be the following:

First up will be what's billed as a "series of secret musical happenings" by high-profile bands in unexpected places and hidden historical spaces around Bankside, taking place for the full duration of the festival, from September 19 - October 20. The artists are yet to be announced, but last year’s performers included Toy and Palma Violets.

Then, for two Sundays in September (22 and 29), Southwark Playhouse hosts Blackout, "cutting-edge, underground and world-famous musical performances" that take place anonymously in the pitch black. Yep, total darkness. And make sure you switch your phone off. Each show has a separate theme and is a "personal sensory interplay between your imagination and the music". Artists have been approached to perform bespoke pieces of unreleased or specially created music, with the whole thing curated by young artists/musicians Sam Potter and Andrew Faley. Guests are currently a "big secret".

Dan Wilson and Chris Weaver present a series of sonic works utilising The Kirkaldy Testing Museum machines as electro-acoustic instruments. Piano strings will be stretched, we are promised, wood blocks crushed, and, yes, metal grills vibrated! Oscillatorial Binnage (helluva name that), taking place on September 26, will move from machine to machine, forming the components of a mechanical synthesiser and creating an improvised composition. The highlight of the performance will be the amplified action of the 450-tonne Kirkaldy machine itself.

Finally, the Riverside Stage, right outside the Tate Modern, will feature a whole gamut of bands with bills curated by Rory Carlile (of the Gladstone folk venue) on the weekends of September 21-22 and 28-29, while Resonance FM will be broadcasting many of these events on Saturday afternoons from 2.30-3.30 pm, September 7 - October 12.

For full details and tickets, head to the festival's website here.