Montreal’s TEKE::TEKE and islandman, from Istanbul, provided two equally vibrant, distinctively diverse spectrums of psychedelia in the basement of Manchester’s YES. Both incredibly striking bands gave the packed audience an array of wildly overwhelming aural pleasure and synesthesia; both also presented a similar amount of visual panache.
In the support slot, eclectic Japanese psych-rock troupe TEKE::TEKE filled the stage not only with half a dozen band members, their unique soundworld brought to lurid life even more vividly than on their spectral debut album (released last year to enormous praise), but also a staggeringly extensive list of instruments: gong, multiple flutes, bagpipes, and megaphone most notable in this rich myriad. The bustling eclecticism from these instruments was doubly prominent live as it is on record, as bursts of trombone spin a startlingly welcome blast among the band’s heavenly noise and flute notes intertwine with their similarly dexterous guitars.
The sheer ferocity of the Hendrix-meets-spaghetti western style riffs (from lead guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier) was likewise twice as rapturous in person – psychedelically joyous whether in this quicksilver form or the caustic, percussive rhythms hammered away elsewhere, aided by second guitarist Hidetaka Yoneyama; here, these percussive jolts of rhythm guitar fly across the stage in perfect harmony the percussion of dynamic kitman Ian Lettre.
The fluidity present in the guitars’ dynamics is also laden throughout the tracks themselves: this snaking, shapeshifting character of TEKE::TEKE’s music blending the tracks sublimely into one another.
Jikaku and Chicchana Toki Kara, from the band’s first release and debut EP (and first release), were two highlights which displayed the band’s full psych potential and their powerful symbiosis. The former pushed their elegant yet barbed guitar licks and collective vocals to the fore; the latter showing off vocalist Maya Kuroki’s expressive lyrical/vocal twists and turns, as well as the visual delight of her movements onstage during the instrumental parts of this track.
Istanbul’s islandman cast a similarly entrancing yet altogether different, incessantly pulsating strand of psych – Anatolian house-tinged, electronically-buoyant psych. With percussionist Eralp Güven standing at the drumkit, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tolga Böyük commandeering a laptop and synths, and guitarist Erdem Başer delivering funk-fused, colourful chords, the wall of sunny noise islandman create casts endlessly enjoyable rays across YES’s basement venue. This is proven by the audience response – entirely different, but just as entranced as that of TEKE::TEKE. Where the Canadian psych-rockers initiated an incredibly fun, ebullient atmosphere with their tunes, onstage charisma and bounty of instruments – the announcement of this being their debut UK tour was also greeted with a typically, sardonic British cry of ‘Sorry!’ – islandman’s powerful beats lull the captive gig-goers into a completely bewitched trance. Some flailed limbs, fully hypnotised, to the speedy psych rhythms; some stood still, evidently under the band’s multi-pronged psychedelia. All, however, appeared absorbed to the core.
This utter absorption was sustained by the character of the set itself – the nearly two hour set a constant chugging of Mediterranean reminiscent beats with zero pauses, re-enacting the energy of a club night many hundreds of miles from Manchester’s industrial environs. The longevity of the ecstasy from islandman’s set was also helped by their precise control over the music’s ebb and flow. The percussion was sometimes a simmering rally on the cymbals and elsewhere crashing blows on the snare and cymbals again – both in seamless transition with the rest of their transcendent psych choir.
This early May night brought two exceptional psych exports, not to be missed the next time they visit nearby shores.