ARTIST: The Telescopes
RELEASE: Stone Tape
RELEASE DATE: 20th November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Yardpress
Seminal UK based sound manipulators ‘The Telescopes’ have returned with a stunning follow up to their ninth album, the July 2017 released ‘As Light Returns’. Over the past thirty years and under the direction of experimental psychedelic explorer, founder & sole remaining member Stephen Lawrie, ‘The Telescopes’ have ploughed a steady experimental furrow into the sonic ether, changing perceptions and influencing many bands along the way. Now Lawrie has joined forces with the Rome based independent record label ‘Yardpress’ to release a six track concept album that goes way beyond the conventional standard of sound. ‘Stone Tape’ is a lysergic tinged spiritual journey spinning primarily around a experimental central cortex of instrumental drone, sparse percussion and eastern esoteric psych that reflects the inner most workings of an artists mind. It is inspired by the ‘Stone Tape Theory’, theorized by Thomas Charles Lethbridge back in 1961. The archaeologist, parapsychologist and explorer developed the idea that inanimate materials can absorb energy from living beings, and that this mental electrical energy, released during emotional or traumatic events, could somehow be stored in such materials and reproduced under certain conditions. ‘Stone Tape’ is a completely immersive sonic experience, deserved of praise and one of the best collection of tracks that I’ve heard this year so far. It gets it’s full release on the 20th November 2017 on various formats via yardpress.com and thetelescopes.bandcamp.com respectively.
A swirling repetitive instrumental drone accompanied by the almost metronomic splash of tambourine announces the arrival of ‘Become The Sun’, the opening salvo on this stunning collection of tracks. There’s a sense of hushed atmospherics as those whispered vocalisations merge effortlessly with eastern tinged esoteric tones to collectively wash over you in undulating waves whilst at the same time submerging you into a lysergic dream like world of meandering instrumentation. It’s highly addictive and a marvellous opening track indeed. Up next, ‘The Speaking Stones’ unfurls it’s malevolent outer layers and creeps into audible range like a stalking predator on the hunt. It’s percussion free sonic tendrils swirl brilliantly around another sustained harmonic drone permeated at different stages by sullen vocal lines awash with polyphonic textures and steeped in deeply experimental reverberations.
Deeply melodic and wonderfully addictive, ‘The Desert In Your Heart’ is a definite highlight on this release. There’s a sublime tonality swirling deep within this piece that balances it’s poetic but sullen vocal lines with the duel functionality of a repetitive drone and the atmospheric steps of the organ that dramatically enhance both harmony and dissonance as they meander deftly along a predestined course. It sucks you in and holds you in a kind of psychedelic stasis as it’s sonic vibrations and fizzing frequencies invade your inner psyche. It’s a masterpiece, thoroughly addictive and my favourite track on the entire release. Up next, ‘Everything Must Be’ growls and fizzes into existence held fast in a electrically charged, feedback laden haze. The constant stab of bass notes and or the twang of guitar adds a malign kind of atmosphere that builds and builds into a whirlwind of dark energy before petering out, allowing apparitional vocal lines to ride tempestuous frequency laden waves of feedback and the odd plonk of piano before screaming back into life in an unwavering instrumental drone. ‘Everything Must Be’ is a sublimely experimental, totally immersive eight minute long sonic journey an it underlines for me just how brilliant the musical mind of Stephen Lawrie actually is.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Silent Water’ jangles into earshot on a shimmering wave of acoustic frequencies deftly underscored by twisting shakers and repetitive electronics. Reverb hued vocal lines intertwine with subtle organ swells to throw a lamenting air over proceedings as Lawrie takes a brief sojourn away from the experimental to bring us something altogether peaceful before ‘Dead Inside’, the albums closing track, skips into the ether and crashes headlong into a world of repetitive acoustic frequencies, mantra like vocalisations and monstrously dark feedback laden electronics to bring us a horror strewn soundscape, deliciously filled with stunning sonic escapism. It’s a fitting end to a wonderfully experimental outing by a band who continuously amaze.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog – The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm – Primal Radio – has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.