Emotion Wave’s A Day in the Sun: Birkenhead Priory

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Field Lines Cartographer

Field Lines Cartographer

The chance to experience a day of electronic music in a 12th century priory beneath giant cranes was too much to pass up so Getintothis’ Mike Stanton got himself to Birkenhead and enjoyed the Bank Holiday sun.

It was a long day, twelve hours of electronic music and hoping that the rain stayed off. It was an even longer day for Emotion Wave Godfather and chief organiser of A Day in the Sun, Neil Grant, he had been there since the break of dawn and was possibly the last man standing when things wrapped up eons later.

Ambitious in scope and replete with problems and hurdles, A Day in the Sun endured a rocky and challenging birth. Complications with the original venue, issues with bureaucracy, food vendors falling through at the last minute and the challenge of having to fit ten acts and five DJ sets onto one stage. The logistics were head spinning. However Neil did it with the help of his Emotion Wave brothers Sean Fearon, Andrew Bates and Matt Lewis, triumphed were others would have crumbled.

On arrival the weather was…patchy. The skies were grey, the wind bore a chill-edge and rain was in the very molecules of air that blew and blustered around us. The venue, Birkenhead Priory, certainly made for an atmospheric and historic venue especially with the 12th century abbey being overshadowed by the huge yellow cranes next door at Cammell Laird dockyards. The priory is essentially a ruin and is open and exposed to the heavens, think Birkenhead’s St. Luke’s (Bombed Out) Church and you get the idea.

Opening the day was a set from the Jupiter Room and everyone was relieved he managed to avoid accidentally kicking out any wires or knocking anything over on the stage. A Day in the Sun was up and running.

A crowd gathered to watch Bye Louis weave his melodic and delicate pop songs, full of bittersweet social observations and understated melancholy. His set was powerful and emotion-filled, holding those sitting on the grass transfixed. In Bye Louis, Liverpool have a wonderfully talented singer/songwriter.

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Lancaster’s Field Lines Cartographer followed and wove dark and unsettling electronic drones and spectral beats. Every curve of sine wave seemed to shoot shadowy matter into the lightening corners of the priory. Preston’s Concrete Tapes then performed an extraordinary cassette-only DJ set of jungle and drum and bass from just two Walkman’s.

Liverpool’s Melodien performed a set of Giorgio Moroder-esque kosmische electronics, all beautiful and floaty melodies that lulled the lunchtime crowd with slow-pulsing hauntology. Lo Five continued the lo-fi vibe with his brand of downtempo electronics, matching the warming sun with a set of sweetly unfolding grooves. Gated Canal Community Radio’s set thrummed and burned through before the dark and swirling electronics of S>>D pushed the day back into the murkier waters of darkening, ambient techno.

Dalham continued, unveiling his ‘slo-mo, sci-fi, electronic doom’, enveloping the open space with his blurred-out melodies and skittering beats. The lads from Liverpool’s Upitup records charged through an amazing DJ set of variety and invention, entertaining the slowly growing teatime crowd. By the time Isocore took to the stage, the first signs of shadows were dancing in the dwindling light. Paolo utilises high and cheap technology to produce his Detroit and hip-hop influenced grooves. His sound fitted the surroundings perfectly, casting huge swathes of crashing electronics out into the early evening.

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MT Hall unpacked her blistering acid techno with a live hardware set. Driving a mighty MC-505, the beats were riven with acid and squelching bass. It was impossible to sit still throughout her set as those heady days of late nineties Bugged Out! were resurrected here in a medieval abbey. Breakwave continued the techno trip with a DJ set of heady beats and sweeping melodies before Reedale Rise took to the stage and laid out his Detroit-inspired house and techno.

TVAM closed the day with his heavy and experimental electronica. Playing guitar, backed by loops and samples synchronised with a TV set displaying visuals (played on VHS tape) he has designed and constructed, he gives us a taster of his forthcoming album, it is a remarkable experience and the sounds he produces veer from ambient drone to searing electronic pugilism. Each song is propulsive, cacophonous, crackling the air around us.

Feedback and pulsing distortion ends the evening and the audience cheer and clap their approval as the last strains of the set spiral upwards and out into the cooling night. It is a fitting end to a day of the highest quality.

So much music packed into a mere twelve hours. It is testament to the drive and vision of Neil Grant that the day went so well. Special mention to Sean Fearon who handled sound mixing duties all day dressed as a skeleton…legend.

Images by Getintothis’ Andrew Bates

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