Chris Massey is a resident of Stretford, just up the road from me, a recording artist and record label owner- Sprechen has put out music by a wide variety of people including Psychederek who has featured here before, not least with this year's gorgeous Test Card Girl single. Chris has recently released an album under the name The Thief Of Time, a seven track record titled Where Do I Belong? When I first listened to it, one cold, dark evening this week, it hit me so hard that it sounded like it had been recorded with me specifically in mind.
Where Do I Belong? finds inspiration in both the celestial and the more earthly, an album that is equally informed by the sounds of cosmic electronic music and South Manchester. There are sounds here that those raised in the 80s will recognise as formative influences- sequenced basslines, electronic pop, synths from rave and the technicoloured space of Andrew Weatherall's remixes. When I clicked play at Bandcamp the album began playing on track five, the aptly named Love Letter From Space, which begins with a ringing guitar part that could be late 80s Manchester or just as easily from yesterday's Coyote edit of Monsoon. The percussion and drums pad in softly, gently building, a widescreen feel of things opening up. Eventually a sampled voice drops in and the cosmic synths flit about, the two guitar notes carrying everything onwards.
There are guest appearances from Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson of A Certain Ratio, Marshall Watson and Allison Rae on We'll Find Each Other and Bay Bryan on Imposter Syndrome, a song which opens with a voice saying, 'It was as if I had no place in the world', and then a kick drum thumps away, synths glide in and an ecstatic lift off is achieved, the sounds of dance music, pop and Balearica stirred together in a day glo sunshine.
Psychederek turns up on the album's final song, Rendezvous On A Lost World, one of those pulsing, propulsive, space age, half ecstatic/ half melancholic songs that mid 80s New Order excelled it, but sprinkled with 2023's dust, Psychederek singing, 'I'm not alone... the present sees me through', as the bass, drums, synths and guitars push away into the horizon.
Where Do I Belong? is a superb sounding album, arriving just in time for the end of the year, songs and sounds filled with emotion and depth, the result of several decades of living in and soaking up culture, the music, TV, film, sounds, comics, clubs, dancefloors, books, clothes and magazines, absorbed and stored away inside. Where Do I Belong? is out now on Sprechen, on vinyl, limited hand created CD, digital and with a tote bag if you're looking for something extra. Find them all here.