The Treasure Island Music Festival will be taking over that flat spot of land in the middle of San Francisco Bay this weekend. And even though this great, boutique festival boasts no conflicts between the main two stages, we'd like to offer a little guidance. Aside from the headliners like Girl Talk and the xx -- which you'd only miss if you're tired, crazy, or stupid -- here are 10 artists to make sure you see at Treasure Island 2012.
Sounds like: If the Avalanches soundtracked Blade Runner.
Why: Saturday is flush with dancey acts, but Matthew Dear seems among the most likely of the early performers to inspire genuine hip gyration. His rakish, grayscale tech-house walks a line between vocal pop -- he sing-talks in a low, often processed tone -- and straight club music. Long considered a minimalist, many of the tracks on Dear's latest album, Beams, are lush with odd samples and sound effects atop their thick backbones of rhythm. But be sure to pay some attention to his words while you get down.
When: 3 p.m., Bridge stage
Sound like: Some of the most uncompromising and inventive hip-hop ever made.
Why: Because rap pioneers Chuck D., Flava Flav, Professor Griff, and DJ Lord will be there, and what are you, a fool?
When: 4:35 p.m., Bridge stage
Sounds like: The component parts of a postmillienial hip-hop beat blown out into their own fascinating microuniverse.
Why: Abraham Orellana, known as AraabMuzik, might be the Jimi Hendrix of the MPC, a digital sampler and processor used to cut up songs into the bouncy pieces of a rap beat. Although he started producing for MCs, the inventiveness of Orellana's tracks and his fancy fingerwork on the MPC's pads mean his productions are way too interesting to just be heard in the background. For last year's lauded Electronic Dream, Orellana dissected an album of cheesy trance and rebuilt the songs as a neon-lit, head-nod-inducing nightscape. You'll want to see him do it live.
When: 5:25 p.m., Tunnel stage
Sounds like: The minimalist future of electronic pop.
Why: Space, space, all around, space! Like fellow Brits James Blake and Treasure Island headliners the xx, the songs made by producer Aaron Jerome as SBTRKT leave lots of blank areas around their throbbing bass and yearning vocals. And as with the best of this minimalist electro-pop-N-B that seems to be one sound du jour in 2012, SBTRKT's works are richer for their vast silences. Jerome's collaborator in the project is Sampha, a British vocalist with a high, sweet voice, and his melodies flow like streams of water down the bleak rockscapes of Jerome's beats. It'll be dark out at Treasure Island by the time these guys go on, and that's a good thing.
When: 8:40 p.m., Tunnel stage
Sounds like: The sun coming up over the desert while you're coming down off of hella drugs.
Why: Tycho's Scott Hansen is also a graphic designer, and his current visual of choice for his music project is a glowing, sun-like orb suspended over a barren landscape. It's a perfect pairing: Tycho's melodies float with glacial patience over tectonic slabs of bass, drums, and guitar. There's a rare feeling of naturalness to his works, a calming, sublime beauty that should suit the twilight hour at Treasure Island quite well.
When: 7 p.m., Tunnel stage
Next: Sunday recommendations