I was slightly perplexed when I first heard that FKA Twigs had managed to get her fair share of airtime on Radio 1. R&B influences are vaguely evident in her music, but more so are her more experimental leanings. Many tracks on her Mercury Prize nominated debut LP1 have bizarre time signatures, rather than the 4/4 'bounce' characteristic of a chart hit. This might seem like an unjustly snobbish response, but it's a notably rare occurrence to hear something like this deemed popular. Perhaps we're seeing quite a big, across the board change in people's listening tastes, and now pop songs aren't as easily replicable as producers might want.

Or more plausibly still, the general population's mind is far more open than some would like to think. FKA Twigs is merely the tip of the iceberg however, and in order for her music to break the surface, it must rest on a mount of influences and inventive producers before her. This article is for those who like the more experimental ideas behind FKA Twigs' music, and want to push their listening further adrift.

Like most scenes, it's hard to piece together distinct yet mysteriously uniform events into the same puzzle. Some of the square-pegs-in-round-holes responsible for London's electronic counterculture are Cafe OTO and Apiary Studios, respectively based in Dalston and Hackney (obviously).

You may think that I am, through writing this, to a degree, a London apologist. As it goes, the city has been a waxing and waning constant in my musical life, and so my first-hand knowledge is going to be drawn from there. If I started talking about the Birmingham scene for example, I'd be extrapolating from the things I've read here and there. And that's the kind of two-dimensionality that I don't think anyone wants.

Now, back to one's topic at hand. As for Cafe OTO, they are arguably the more established venue. On the whole, it is most well known for its avant-garde jazz nights, but it sees its fair number of electronic artists as well. The bar has hosted those such as Inga Copeland, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame), and guest DJ Andy Votel from the eclectic Finders Keepers label last year. Over on Apiary Studios' side of East London, the venue sees its share of artists who dabble in circuit bending. That is, the precarious art of dismantling the circuitry of synthesisers and pedals to reassemble them in novel ways, mostly relying on amateurish knowledge to invent new sounds. Despite this seemingly modern approach, circuit bending has its origins in the early 20th century. This was a comparably exciting time to ours for technological development, seeing in the invention of the theremin and the theoretical 'musique concrete' genre after leaps in recording processes.

And if this isn't far out enough from you, away from the steady beacon of Radio 1, then maybe this is. In their stalwart open mindedness, Cafe OTO and Apiary Studios often run audio-visual performances within their venue. If this sounds like a categorical mindfuck to you, an anatomically impossible beast - well it is, and that's definitely the point.

"At the best of times, when it has greater reception, it stops pop music from becoming too aware of what it should be."

All this might sound like the musical equivalent of beardstrokers in a gallery, contemplating the 'negative capability' of Nigel Farage's forgotten and damp morning toast now conceptually re-appropriated behind a glass screen. A similar expectation crept over me when I turned up at Apiary Studios to see Helm last year. It was merely coincidental - seeing Iceage, the headline act, was my only real agenda. Helm was support. I wasn't expecting too much really. In actual fact, I was confronted by the sonic equivalent of the noise that your stomach makes after a particularly bad curry, pumped at a nauseating volume from someone's amplifier. Or if you want a slightly less corpuscular, more musical point of reference, it was a bit like Throbbing Gristle. (I'll get on to them in a bit.)

I can't say it was something that I particularly 'enjoyed'. But afflicted with 21st Century content overload and the option to casually watch A Serbian Film at a tap of a button, being physically shocked Stendhal Syndrome-style by music or art is a rare event. Presumably how some felt when they saw Public Image Ltd for the first time, 'performing' 'Death Disco' on Top of the Pops. Or Francis Bacon's 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion' at the otherwise accessible Tate Britain. These moments are sometimes less shared. As for headliners Iceage, their punk posturing seemed tame and most importantly, predictable.

And so much for Ambient 1/ Music for Airports, an otherwise inspired concept album of Brian Eno's revised one time too many, where the music in question is purposefully not the exhibit but the backdrop. In reversion of this, Helm's electronic music makes you pay attention to 'it', god forbid, as though it were a physical presence. And in this particular instance, Apiary's vacuum-packed and utilitarian performance space was merely there to encapsulate such presence.

You can't deny the influence of Throbbing Gristle here on Helm. A group who worked on the final cusp of the '80s, their disturbing choice of samples made it clear that even already they were attempting to pull electronic music away from the dance floor, and into far darker territories. In many ways they can be thought of as precursors to the genre Industrial. And so then decisively more close to punk in their controlled aggression, than the first emergences of synth pop at the time. No strangers to humour however, the band's second album was titled 20 Jazz Funk Greats. This was complete with a cover depicting the band in the straightest '70s attire, including the worst of mens' fashion (at the time of course, what comes around etc etc). With a name like 'Throbbing Gristle' though, I doubt that would in no way convince people that this album was in any way tame. There is something about their take on generic '70s smooth jazz album art that is almost cartoonishly jarring though, invoking a very dark, stereotypically British sense of humour.

Throbbing Gristle have had an undeniably crucial influence on another London-based band, Factory Floor. In live settings they too create a sub-claustrophobic atmosphere of intensity. Unlike both Throbbing Gristle and Helm, they adhere more to convention, with a danceable beat left firmly intact. Factory Floor strike a satisfying balance between experimentation and accessibility, which has allowed their influence seep beyond London's fringe scenes. While lacking any melody at the best of times, it might sound strange for me to say that I think they promise wider appeal. Gabe Guernsey, the band's drummer, has been swapping some fantastic remixes with Daniel Avery as of late. Avery is more well known for his residency at Fabric, and on the whole more so the mainstream London clubbing scene. Having said that though, Factory Floor did have their own live set there last year, so perhaps large scale popularity isn't too far off a notion for them as well.

And I am sure there is much left unmentioned, countless further innovations bear to witness to. So what has all this got to do with FKA Twigs? I can't say that this article is a forensic investigation into the artists' exact influences. However, what this is to show is that instead of being out on a limb, FKA Twigs is a bizarre pop anomaly, who otherwise might have been confined to the obscurity that some of the artists that I have been describing have seen. Experimental music often has the ability to frighten, or appear unnecessarily outlandish. With the cacophony of its heady and theoretical origins, there is something childish and playful to be found in any good experimentation. At the best of times, when it has greater reception, it stops pop music from becoming too aware of what it should be. Unlike the fringe inventors I have listed, FKA Twigs has the nerve to hold up her obscurities to a populist light, and ask us the question: 'what makes this not Pop?' A brave and important question to be challenged with indeed.