This week we return to Utrecht in the Netherlands for Le Guess Who? 2018. If like us, you’ve been keeping tabs on the lineup, you’re probably having to make some tough decisions about which acts to see across the four days of the festival. As always there’s a wide variety of acts with curators Shabaka Hutchings, Moor Mother and Devendra Banhart offering up a lineup that has a little something for everyone.

Whilst we feel the best approach to Le Guess Who? is to just go in with an open mind and embrace uncertainty - some of our highlights in past years have come about because we just ducked into a venue on the way to somewhere else - we know that it helps to have a plan. Here then are our suggestions of acts that are worth checking out at this year’s festival.

Lonnie Holley feat. Nelson Patton - Thursday 19:45

Experimental musician and visual artist Lonnie Holley was one of our surprises highlights when he performed at Le Guess Who? 2016. Back then he whisked audiences away in a dreamy set, but this year he returns with much darker, more political material from this year’s extraordinary Mith. With Holley focusing heavily on improvisation and stream of consciousness lyrics, no show is ever really the same, and we’re looking forward to being surprised all over again this year.

Yves Tumor - Thursday 00:45

Where even to start with Yves Tumor? The recently released Safe In The Hands Of Love rips up any notion of categorisation, bounding between hip-hop, pop, drone, alt-rock and more. It’s an unpredictable record, from an artist pushing the limits of music. That unpredictability extends to Yves Tumor’s live shows, with those who have seen him live often talking about how shocking and unexpected his shows can be, with performances feeling more like raucous punk sets than the work of an experimental artist.

Shintaro Sakamoto - Friday 20:15

This year’s Le Guess Who? brings a wealth of Japanese talent to Europe, one of the most interesting acts being cult musician Shintaro Sakamoto. Originally making his name as part of psychedelic band Yura Yura Teikoku, Sakamoto now indulges in breezy, blissful guitar pop that blends disco, jazz and Hawaiian guitars. The music might seem light and optimistic, but there’s a playful darkness to Sakamoto’s music that’s often juxtaposed in apocalyptic imagery present in his lyrics and album art.

Vashti Bunyan - Friday 22:00

The story of Vashti Bunyan’s return to music thirty years after her debut album is one that has been written about extensively, but shouldn’t distract from the fundamental truth that Bunyan crafts superb, moving folk tales. Her most recent release, 2014’s Heartleap, is a beautiful, beguiling record with rich arrangements underscoring Bunyan’s soft vocals. At this year’s Le Guess Who she’ll be performing in the ecclesiastic setting of Janskerk, which feels like it will prove to be a fitting backdrop.

JPEGMAFIA - Friday 00:15

With its pulverising beats and confrontational lyrics, Veteren is a record that holds a mirror up to the dark heart of American politics and the internet culture wars in a way that few other records have managed. It’s an explosive record, and live JPEGMAFIA translates this into an intense, physical performance. Without doubt this is set to be one of the festival’s more raucous sets. If previous shows are anything to go by, expect to find yourself getting sucked into a mosh pit, with JPEGMAFIA at the centre of the chaos.

FRKWYS: Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - Saturday 18:00

This year, as part of a 15th anniversary celebration, renowned record label RVNG are premiering two new releases in their FRKWYS series - one of which will be recorded live at the festival. However, we’ve got our eye on this collaboration between vocalist / composer Ian William Craig and electronic composer Daniel Lentz. We’re big fans of Ian William Craig, and his live shows are known to be truly transcendental experiences, so we’ve very high hopes for this special live performance.

Midori Takada - Saturday 20:20

If there’s one thing that Le Guess Who? really excels at, it’s attracting cult figures in the experimental scene. Japanese composer and percussionist Midori Takada is one such artist having directly influenced RVNG’s Visible Cloaks, whilst echoes of her music can be heard in the works of GABI and Masayoshi Fujita. Takada brings a minimalist sensibility to percussive music experimenting with jazz structures, East Asian music and African rhythms. Live she can alternate between delicately playing a vibraphone and creating huge, rolling rhythms on a drum kit - so just expect to see percussion played in ways you’d never expected.

Gaika - Saturday 00:00 TivoliVredenburg

Basic Volume, the debut album from Brixton’s Gaika, blends dancehall, hip-hop and industrial electronica to create one of 2018’s most thrilling records. It’s a futuristic vision of London’s music scene, one that dabbles in the murk and grime of the everyday, but also contains some surprising moments of beauty. We’re not entirely sure what to expect from Gaika’s live show, but are hoping for a soundsystem that will really highlight the bass heavy sound of his best tracks.

Tirzah - Sunday 18:10

We’re huge fans of Tirzah’s debut album Devotion. It’s an album that conjures up a unique and ethereal atmosphere that draws from R&B, garage and soul music. It’s a world that’s easy to get lost in and we’re really excited to see how that plays out in a live setting, where Tirzah can lean into the club influences that permeate through the record’s hypnotic tracks.

Swamp Dogg - Sunday 22:20

At 76, soul artist Swamp Dogg turned the genre upside down with the release of Love, Loss and Auto-Tune. As the title implies the record makes heavy use of the infamous vocal effect and, along with synths and drum machines, attempts to re-imagine classic Southern soul for the modern age. The result is a weird and wild record, but one with real heart and emotional weight.