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.
Stone Tape by the telescopes
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.
by Primal Music
RELEASE: Hidden Fields
RELEASE DATE: 7th August 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Tapete Records
Far from the introspective ears of the mainstream media whores & hidden deep within a swirling mass of droning guitars and reverb laced vocals lies the ingenious mind of seminal experimental psychedelic explorer / founder & sole remaining member of legendary UK based band ‘The Telescopes’ AKA Mr. Stephen Lawrie! Founded in 1987 ‘The Telescopes’ have been creating a seriously addictive brand of psychedelically infused noisy space rock, intertwined at times with a shimmering intense melodic brilliance that transcends even this modern day spaced out shoegazing rebirth thus continually giving them the ability to transport the listener back to a world where musical experimentation is king & floating in a suspended reverberating whirlwind is common place. To most musical commentators they were the underdogs of the 80’s /90’s but to me they were the dogs bollox and are more relevant today, in my opinion, than any of the recently reformed musical bandwagon riders.
As you can probably gather I am & have always been a Telescopes fan. Back in the early days when my friends were following the exploits of Slowdive & Ride or trying without hope to understand the inner confines of ‘Creation Records’ own – ‘My Bloody Valentine’ I was more interested in what ‘The Telescopes’ were experimenting with musically. It was Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, The Velvet Underground & Jesus And Mary Chain that soundtracked my early pre-adult life. I began listening to them in school after I was handed a DIY home recorded copied cassette of their very first release entitled ‘Taste’ & was instantly hooked on the brilliant single ‘The Perfect Needle’. But it wasn’t until their follow up, the epic self titled monolith (or if your new fan of the band the aptly named reissued version – ‘Untitled Second’ ) that I really began to sit up & take note of just what this band could create collectively! It was a sonic awakening! A full on rollercoaster ride of shimmering brilliance with tracks such as Flying, High On Fire, Ocean Drive & the stunning Sleepwalk leading the charge. Did they go all baggy around this time? Probably! But I tend to see it as a natural experimental progression on the road to musical martyrdom.
‘The Telescopes’ called it a day in 1992 but after a 8 year hiatus they underwent a sonic resurrection to rave live reviews (within the ever circling music press) but with a revolving door policy when it came to band members! They regrouped & returned to their foundation sound of melodic white noise, drone & space rock. Throughout this resurrection there was one continuous shining beacon of light in the guise of the ever present Stephen Lawrie! The band, in various forms, went on to release a plethora of immense albums including the brilliantly intense ‘Third Wave (2002)‘ followed by the experimental ‘Number 4 (2005)’ & then ‘Hungry Audio Tapes ( 2006)’, ‘Infinite Suns (2008)’, ‘HARM (2013)’, various compilations & live albums, split 7’ & 10’ singles with various bands including ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ & ‘Deadly Cradle Death’. The list goes on!
Stephen Lawrie teamed up brilliant Glasgow based noise rockers ‘St Deluxe’ to release a brand new 5 track album entitled ‘Hidden Fields’ (out on the 7th August 15) via ‘Tapete Records’. This release continues his love of experimental droning space rock & dreamy infectious mind bending soundscapes.
The EP opens up with the dark menacing overtones of ‘You Know The Way’. A howling white knuckle ride through layers of feedback, throbbing bass lines & addictive drum patterns that somehow seem to sit perfectly on a two chord guitar progression of melodic brilliance reminiscent in parts to early Sub-Pop era ‘Mudhoney’ or ‘Sonic Youth’. Add into the mix that soul wrenching vocal line & that ever present screaming guitar and we have our favourite track right here! Simply Immense! Next up we’re into early ‘Spaceman 3’ territory with the droning melodic overtones of ‘Absence’. This for me is music made for coming down to (all be it via headphones!) ‘In Every Sense’ screams ‘The Velvet Underground meets Jesus And Mary Chain’ but with a heavier droning maelstrom of sound more commonly found within the modern day droning genre with bands such as Scottish based outfit 'The Cherry Wave’ or UK based ’93 Million Miles From The Sun’ leading the charge. Next up, track 4 – ‘Don’t Bring Me Round’ is a swirling whirlwind of dark oppressive brilliance intertwined with screaming guitars, hypnotic drums & a demonic vocal line that somehow seems to dig itself out of the overall sound & hug a melodic undertone of shimmering intensity. Highly addictive in parts but with a musical brilliance that will leave you gobsmacked. The closing track on ‘Hidden Fields’ should have a post code all of its own! Coming in at 15 minutes plus ‘The Living Things’ is a chaotic collision of swirling guitars, droning noisy sounds & shuffling drums that somehow all intertwine into musical logic! Put simply it makes musical sense! This track belongs on a short film outlining one mans decent into suspended reverberation. It's the ‘TRON’ of the musical world – a bloody masterpiece!
‘Hidden Fields’ is a musical rollercoaster ride through multifaceted layers of sonic goodness. Not for the faint hearted, this oppressive collection of tracks needs continuous listens to peel back the dark overpowering sense of foreboding that swirls around its inner being. But once you hear its shimmering melodic core it will have you hooked on its internal beauty. A truly magnificent adventure to a world of sonic abandonment & one that I will return to again & again.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & 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. 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.