Emotion Wave was back for July and that meant another clutch of underground electronic producers graced 81 Renshaw Street, Getintothis’ Mike Stanton soaked up the sine waves.
Emotion Wave has been going three years now and has showcased some of the most exciting electronic producers from across the North West region in that time. The mastermind behind this regular evening is Neil Grant himself, also known as electronic producer Lo Five.
Through Emotion Wave, Neil has enhanced the reputation of Liverpool as being an essential stopover for any seeker of underground electronica. Some of the names who have already graced 81 Renshaw Street (Emotion Wave’s home now for some two and a half years) include DJ Food, Mark Peters and Double Echo.
This particular Saturday was no different; three cutting-edge electronic music producers, a small but dedicated and sonically educated crowd and a brilliantly bohemian and intimate venue.
In the time Emotion Wave has been calling Renshaw Street its home, the café has evolved into a fine bar/venue/record shop and now regularly hosts music, visual arts and comedy events, firmly establishing itself as an essential part of the vibrant creative scene in Liverpool. This is in contrast to venues seemingly closing on a weekly basis throughout the city, the most recent being The Krazyhouse. It is testament to the drive and vision of Renshaw Street’s owners that the venue is growing in reputation and popularity.
Tonight three more performers take their places in the muted gloom of the performance area at the back of the café/venue; all three from the North West, all three purveyors of exciting underground sounds.
First up is Baron Farg, a Liverpool-based producer who deals in liquid IDM grooves and his set is a smooth and deep glide through deeply rich textures and trip-hop beats. It is always refreshing to see a performer so deeply rooted into his performance that he dips and bobs to the sounds and Baron Farg does this; all through his near 30 minute set his head nods to the beats, clearly into the groove he is weaving.
Seemingly channelling at times the spacey artfulness of Jean Michel Jarre and the organic loop and glide of a Lifeforms-era Future Sound of London, Baron Farg manages to becalm the clearly zoned audience into joining him on his tripped-out excursion. It’s a set of sweet deviations and cool segues, of easy chill and kosmiche flights. Baron Farg uses his wide palette of influences from jazz to classical to inform his electronic compositions and this shows in his pristine arrangements and musical skill. Catch him if you can.
Dublock is all about ambient techno, brittle beats with swept melodies and a deep-space-like transmission feel to his music. From that burgeoning area for electronic music, Lancaster, already home to the likes of Polypores, Nurse Predator and Impulse Array, Dublock’s pedigree is impeccable.
Here he combines thumping beats with some very hypnotic grooves, taking the audience on a journey through some sweet low dub with delightfully squelchy acid diversions, sounding like (as one audience member said) David Lynch on acid. Playing cuts from his latest EP Dangrabad Beta, the beats are so intricate, acting as instruments in their own right, allowing spongy and bass rumbling synths time and space to float among hypnotic rhythmic patterns. It is an evocative experience of soft synth hooks and chiming melodies overlaying intricate patterns and pleasing house beats.
That balance of ambience and techno is tricky to pull off and can end in either a convoluted mess or bland inconsequence; Dublock maintains that balance with great skill ensuring a set of fluid waves of hypnotic grooves and room-rumbling bass. It is a set of skill and flair.
White Mask is a member of that triumvirate of Blackpool producers currently enjoying huge success in the echelons of the more discerning electronic music circles. Like his fellow artists, VHS Head and Phono Ghosts, he inhabits the world of retro and nostalgia-infused bent fusions of synth funk, synth pop, and hauntology.
Tonight’s set is a tantalising glimpse into his new, yet-to-be-released album and if this is anything to go by it’s going to be pretty special. Centred around Russian cold war paranoia, the sounds compliment the back-projected visuals perfectly. There is a feel of a government service broadcast about the set. Retro sounds, hard bass and sweeping melodies are drawn together with some crashing beats as the glitch visuals twitch and meld behind him.
This two-part narrative ensures the experience is fully immersive and the audience is transfixed; any murmering is gone and silence reigns as the sounds and visuals wash over us all. White Mask uses similar techniques employed by the drum and bass of the late nineties, one of gorgeously melodic and swept ambience over crashing beats to conjure a unique form of hard ambience. This hard and soft, loud and quiet sensibility is utterly compelling and once the set is over the crowd roar their approval clearly wanting more.
White Mask closes out a hugely enjoyable night of experimental electronica and it is a tribute to Neil Grant et al that once again some amazing artists have shown their wares and entertained a very clued-in and enthusiastic audience at another Emotion Wave.
Images by Getintothis’ Andrew Bates