Jacco Gardner @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester


Jacco Gardner has been known to create swirling psychedelic pop boosted by his rich, resonant and baroque voice but on his third and latest LP Somnium, the vocals are gone and in their place is an equally seamless melodic exploration through instrumentation with a menacing edge. When talking about the album, Gardner says that Somnium is a nod to the novel of the same name, written in 1608 by Johannes Kepler and is regarded as the first ever science fiction novel: “This book fascinates me because it was basically Kepler travelling in his mind to a non-existent world while describing it, and his journey, with amazing detail. Many of his imagined sensations are actually really what happens when one travels into space, which happened almost four hundred years later. You could call it a vision of the future through his dreams, and I find this aspect very mysterious and powerful.”

This form of mind travel is what Jacco has set out to create in a sonic, almost alchemic, capacity. Hence the reason for his vocals to be left out of this spiritual journey. “I deliberately removed my voice from the experience, as it made it more difficult for me to achieve the intended state of mind. I think it makes the journey more interesting, more deep, and more intimate. I didn’t feel the need to show my face while one drifts away into thought. Somnium is a visionary experience. The album is more than just a trip, it is about contact with a deeper -hidden reality.”

If the concepts behind this record sound otherworldly and intricately woven, then Gardner has also succeeded in making a record that does the same and tonight’s show at Soup Kitchen is set to be a little less than usual. The instrumentation is set up in the middle of the room, with a four-point quadrophonic sound system and objectively placed lighting worked into the set up.

The show begins in almost complete darkness and remains so for most of the set, except in the crescendos where the music reaches its peak and then softened lightning in alternating colours corresponds to the music. The entire set is executed with precision and the sound could be described as the love child of Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre, yet somehow it transcends both. The 50 minute set is observed in silence by the audience until the conclusion when the expected rapturous applause can be heard. Everyone in this room knows they have experienced something special tonight.

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Lover of all things psych and shoegaze and the mind behind Astral Elevator; constantly seeking new musical experiences in a world full of noise.