A Day In The SunBirkenhead Priory 25/8/18
Maritime or religious? These are the bizarre surroundings in which a group of ‘itk’ folk have found themselves today. Birkenhead Priory is the oldest standing building on Merseyside. It’s awkwardly picturesque with swathes of the rebuilt aspects dominating the fight against the rusting cranes that sit old and proud next to it. Built in 1150 it was where the monks helped people across the river and, no doubt, back again. It is a tidy part of Birkenhead and the locals are very proud of this remaining piece of Merseyside architectural history.
But it’s 2018. The Priory is looked after by helpers that strive to keep the building and its frontage alive. They do a sterling job and so eyebrows are raised when Wirral New Music Collective decide to help promoters Emotion Wave put on an ‘all-dayer’ at the front of the impressively elderly church. Because when you see the religious iconography of this sandstone brick building, of course it screams ‘post-punk’ and ‘IDM beats’. OK. It doesn’t, but A Day In The Sun is a worthy and inspiring attempt at making Emotion Wave break out of the cosy and cool confines of 81 Renshaw.
THE JUPITER ROOM is a radio broadcast and one-man electronica obsessive Mike Stanton. He is Wirralian, and his knowledge of his subject knows no bounds. It does seem a shame to shove him on stage at 11.15 in the morning, but it’s a lovely sunny day (thankfully for the marketing department) and The Jupiter Room seems nervously happy to be here. DJ sets at ungodly hours are a chore. Not this. The core of what Emotion Wave stands for is expertly demonstrated with a 55-minute set that veers between the gorgeously sublime and the angrily industrial. Skam’s Blackpool sample guru VHS Head gets things started and the well-thought-out set comprises of the clattering pop of The KVB, the gentle decaying of Brian Eno (from the underrated Nerve Net, no less) and stopping off at Meat Beat Manifesto, Leftfield, Belbury Circle and King Of Woolworths. Sprinkle on a smattering of newbies (Jacob 2-2, Blackhill Transmitter and the wonderful Makeup And Vanity Set) and here’s a radio show writ large on any electronic radio bucket list. Go search and peer into his damaged box of dark pop delights.
The headliner TVAM is playing to a happy few as the remains of the sun slips behind us, creating a haunting view of the church and an eerily demonic backdrop for Wiganer Joe Oxley to begin the campaign to promote his brilliant debut album Psychic Data. He’s all bigtime now the single has made the BBC 6Music playlist and there’s a national tour in the pipeline. So, Emotion Wave are humbled that he’s kick-starting everything off outside a disused church in Birkenhead.
To be honest the surroundings suit the noise. His version of angry post-punk – more of a tantrum morphing into a sharp slap in the face – should be at odds with the ornate and flyblown backdrop. But as the set opens with the album’s title track, Oxley is gazing downward at his vast array of pedals as his television that stands proudly alongside him, belches out DIY cut and pasted video scrawls, idents and visually damaged feedback. The TV draws you in and allows the TVAM experience to stamp on your ears whilst you allow it to happen.
The debut single Porsche Majeure is still possibly the way all artists that like post punk should aspire to. It’s dirty, noisy, tuneful, dark and so twistedly rhythmic that when you find out the author is a librarian it doesn’t compute. These Are Not Your Memories is the track that everyone is getting excited about. Steam-hammer synths and minimal punky guitars cascade over mumbled and anxious lyrics. Oxley’s tremendous fringe flops sourly over the mic and he grapples with his guitar as images of 80s pretty boys getting their hair cut on the screen do make you wonder what the hell is going on in Wigan’s libraries to create this.
Even when the lights go up, TVAM extends the final psych-synth wig-out Total Immersion to give the rusting, yellowing cranes something to dance about. And then it stops, infuriatingly. It’s going to be album of the year. He is one of the cleverest new artists this writer has seen in a while and the gig in November at EBGBS is essential as Joe will have tweaked the set and the album will have bedded in. Be there. Or at least go and support Emotion Wave. It’s a serious glimpse into the future of artificial life.