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Tuesday 18 June 2024

Sprechen Presents...

On Saturday night gig goers in Manchester had multiple options. The new Co- Op Arena in east Manchester hosted Liam Gallagher who was playing Definitely Maybe in full and then whatever else it is Liam plays after he's done all the good songs. Old Trafford cricket ground had Foo Fighters. Manchester city centre on Saturday afternoon was packed with people coming and going, Liam and Foo fans, hen parties and earlier on glammed up Taylor Swift fans heading for trains to Liverpool. The other option was a walk up Cheetham Hill Road to The Yard and a Sprechen Records Presents night with live performances by Chris Massey's The Thief Of Time and Psychederek. I took the non- Liam, no- Foo option and headed to The Yard. 

The Thief Of Time's debut album Where Do I Belong? came out towards the end of last year and became one of my favourite albums of 2023 very quickly. Chris Massey usually makes dance music and ultimately that has one aim- to make people dance. The Thief Of Time is song based and more autobiographical, Chris bringing together a lifetime spent soaking up pop culture- music, films, comics, songs, bands, clubs- and forming into one seven song record. There are nods of the head to 80s pop, to mid- 80s New Order, electronic music and guitars. A Certain Ratio helped out as did Psychederek, Bay Bryan and Alison Rae who all provided vocals. At 9.45 pm on Saturday night Chris stepped on stage at The Yard for the debut live appearance as The Thief of Time, switching between guitar, synth drums, keys/ synths and vocals with a guitarist to his left. The songs definitely work live, pulsing and building, electronic pop with psychedelic and lots of film references. The projections behind added a visual dimension, sci fi loops, Manchester tower blocks, the footbridge over the M60 at Stretford and pulsating computer animations. Many of the songs have snatches of dialogue sampled from film and TV and Chris had synced up the vocal samples to the moments of the films he took them from, the actors from various black and white films appearing on the screen as their voices came through the PA. It was hugely impressive and hopefully the first of many future performances. Towards the finale, with twin guitars chiming away, as the motorik/ cosmische rhythms thumped on and the synths soared, the effect was magical and hypnotic. This one, Rendezvous On A Lost World, with the ghostly refrain sung by Psychederek, 'You're not alone', echoing through the Victorian school building, sounded especially good.

The Thief Of Time were followed by Psychederek. His single Test Card Girl was one of my favourite releases of 2023 and his recent EP Alt! is already shaping up to be one of my favourites of '24. Behind a bank of synths, drum machines and a laptop, a microphone and a guitar, Psychederek began with the dreamy, phased, blissed out synth chords of Test Card Girl, stretching the sounds and filtering them before the drum beat kicked in...

From there he went from one song straight into the next, a blend of gig and DJ set, the songs joined seemlessly. Hapi from Alt! had his singing, his voice floating from the PA, followed by the crunching cosmische rhythms and Neu! guitar/ synthlines of Nowhere To Nowhere. I had to leave before the end of Psychederek's set but what I caught was superb and I'll be back for more next time he plays. 

Psychederek's Alt! is available at Sprechen, four songs for summer '24 including his sun baked cover of 808 State's Pacific. Digital and vinyl here

The Thief Of Time's Where Do I Belong? is here, digital, CD and vinyl options plus posters and tote bags. 

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