It feels like half of Bluedot is sheltering from Sunday’s early evening rain, rather than specifically being in the Orbit tent to see Jockstrap. But those lucky enough to be squeezed in here witness a fabulous set from the fast-rising and beguilingly esoteric London duo.
Georgia Ellery (Black Country, New Road) and Taylor Skye produce “temporally disrupted” alt-pop, derived from glitchy/cinematic/post-dubstep electronics, orchestral flourishes, errant manipulations and cleverly placed samples. Established tropes and structures are twisted and flexed into strange, ear-popping new shapes, often mid-song, with Ellery’s disarming, sugar-sweet voice woven through. Waltz-like tempos add another dimension, making it feel like you’re at an avant-garde tea dance.
The attention to detail, surfeit of ideas and complexity are astonishing. “You fucking love / You love to fuck / To fuck it up” sings Ellery mesmerically on the ballad-y ‘Angst’, before her vocals are sped up via some wonky, Aphex-like voodoo. ‘Debra’ fuses soaring, Bollywood-ish orchestrations with distorted interjections, like Vangelis doing trap. ‘Concrete Over Water’ blankets Ellery’s gorgeous, delicate phrasing with a sprinkle of artsy stardust, squiggly electro and synthetic, melodramatic strings – think Hudson Mohawke’s ‘Chimes’ – before its shuddering denouement. And ‘50/50’ is a circuit-bending gem that sounds like it’s been half-inched from Squarepusher’s cutting room floor. Shiver-inducingly good, all of it. No wonder the likes of Björk, Anna Meredith and Jamie xx are big fans.
Not long after, I just about catch the tail-end of W. H. Lung at the Nebula stage. Rousing stuff it is, too, as ‘New Gold Dream’-era Simple Minds, the Berlin School and motorik, Neu!-like propulsion meet head-on. A effervescent ball of energy, singer Joseph E prowls the stage like he’s in the grip of a major sugar rush. The last song – I didn’t catch the title – sounds like The Cure getting their kosmische groove on. Wish I’d got there earlier.
And it’s a real treat to see The Eccentronic Research Council – Sheffield’s Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer (The Moonlandingz, International Teachers Of Pop) with long-time pal Maxine Peake – reprising their ‘Dreamcatcher Tapes’ material, performing the “recalled dreams and nightmares” of various friends, associates, actors, musicians and eccentrics.
Glugging intermittently from a bottle of wine, Flanagan is as entertaining as ever. “Hello, I’m Billy Bragg,” he bellows into the mic. “What are you fuckers doing here?”. You can almost sense the twinkle in his eye behind those trademark shades. Peake is the storyteller, of course, reciting said dreams with thespian oomph, while Honer and Flanagan (plus “Dimitri” on drums) provide lo-fi analogue synth noodlings.
The feel is discombobulatingly psychedelic and vaguely hauntological – in a Ghost Box sense – like some mid-point between surreal public information films and ‘Play For Today’ from a parallel 1970s universe. We get sleazy tales, fierce dogs and Peake’s own dream about – to paraphrase – “barm cakes, a beautiful, olive-skinned actor with a big beard and really fat border collies”.
Flanagan takes the piss out of Peake at every opportunity, chuckling to himself (she gives as good as she gets), while Honer walks nonchalantly around the stage like he’s inspecting a property he wants to buy. It’s all great fun, even veering off into danceable electropop and an impromptu rendition of the ‘Eastenders’ theme at the end. Everyone claps and hollers in appreciation. “Weirdos!” shoots back Flanagan. “This isn’t ‘Top Of The Pops’!”
What a total joy this weekend’s been. Missing you already, Bluedot.