Saturday begins with a great discovery; a shortcut opposite the Mission Control tent which guides you through the Actual Reality Arcade, past the Space Pavillion and the Notes tent to the sanctuary of internet and proper toilets of the press office. The press office is where the ES team gathers to upload reviews and drink coffee before heading off for another day at the science/music festival coalface, and the time the shortcut shaves off the normal trek to get here feels like the kind of scientific breakthrough this event is all about. If only Tim Peake could see this.
I have no time to dally. I have a date with the Clangers in MIssion Control where a large screen sits atop a stage set of three science-y looking workstations, a cross between Kling Klang studio circa the ‘Computer World’ tour and three EMS Synthi 100 enormo-synths.
Three episodes of the high-def reboot of the stop motion animation in the company of several hundred children in various states of disarray and anarchy is a fine start to the day. In one episode, our favourite knitted Moon dwellers visit a multi-dimensional Rubik’s Cube that looks like it was designed by Piet Mondrian. Another sees Clangers Tiny and Small discover a musical pod thing; part space conch, part-sampler, all UV-lit tech of wonder. Even the Iron Chicken is impressed. Turns out it’s a sentient cosmic field recording device. Amazing. I am lulled by Michael Palin’s narration, the gentle tootling of the Clangers’ swannee whistle vocalisations, and a thousand bubbles floating through the air from dozens of bubble contraptions purchased in the Great Bubble Frenzy of Friday Night. Later, real Clangers make an in-Clanger appearance. I hadn’t realised they were such large creatures.
Over at the Notes stage the Delia Derbyshire Day team have put together a mini programme of talks. First up is a panel chaired by Delia scholar Dr David Butler with Hannah Peel, composer and Radiophonic Workshop musical director Mark Ayres and prolific TV and film composer Nainita Desai. They each pick a piece from Delia’s archive to play and discuss. Mark Ayres, wearing an Electronic Sound T-shirt, I’m pleased to report, plays ‘Dances With Noah’, which was used on an EMS promo, with an introduction by Tristram Cary, co-inventor of the EMS VCS3 synthesiser. Ayres describes Delia’s work as sounding “grown rather than performed”, which is the perfect way to describe an astonishing rhythm track which is buried in the mix. An isolated take of it was found in the archive and also gets an airing today. “It sounds like it could be released on Warp today,” says Ayres. When it was first played on the radio, Ayres says, listeners assumed it was a hoax. Hannah Peel plays a track from the 1972 library music album ‘Electrosonic’, the LP which formed the basis of her ‘Fir Wave’ album, while Nainita Desai goes for a piece which Delia made from a 1939 recording of a 3,000 year-old silver trumpet found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Major festival draw Tim Peake filled Mission Control to bursting point for his engaging talk about his training and his journey into space. When he was growing up, there was no TIm Peake doing Zoom calls with primary schools around the country to inspire new generations of space-o-nauts, but kids today have got Tim Peake! Space Lord of All Our Space Hearts! As long as the kids of today can take their bubble devices into space, this lot will make fine cosmonauts. For his eagerly received space-positive message, the tent was even more rammed than it was an hour later for Adam Buxton, the beloved podcaster whose presented two hours of his Bug show.
Buxton delights in sharing brain-scambling vids from, among others, Mirwais, Audiobooks (made by Brighton-based creative collective Rottingdean Bazaar, aka James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks “who has a less fun name…”). The video by Keith Schofield for Duck Sauce (Armand Van Helden and A-Trak) draws the biggest reaction, mostly for its recursive disappearing up Vin Diesel’s bumhole sequence. You should watch it. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t.
A quick late night check at Bubbles Inc reveals a queue of harrassed parents and delirious children longer than for the free cuppas at the Yorkshire Tea stand. Bubbles slowly approach Yard Act as they play to a full Orbit tent. Bubbles float over Metronomy, bubbles wobble over Stuart Braithwaite and his fellow Mogwai noiseniks as they headline the Lovell Stage.
After Mogwai there’s a parade of space people, ladies with wide skirts glowing with light, fire breathing bat dragon things, and all sorts, who wend their way through the site. Somewhere in the distance Squarepusher is shredding a tent to pieces. There are probably bubbles in there. This corner of our pale blue dot is kicking off.
Tickets for Bluedot 2023 are on sale now at www.discoverthebluedot.com/