The Telescopes: Songs of Love and Revolution
Longstanding champions of psychedelic noise/drone rock The Telescopes add to their impressive and influential back catalogue with a new collection. As one of the song titles hints at, this is a masterclasses in mesmerizingly experimental songs.
Never one to stagnate or rest on his laurels, Stephen Lawrie will write music relating to his mood and as a reaction to his surroundings. Keen to make every release a unique portrait of that time and space. In an interview with Louder Than War towards the end of last year, he described Songs of Love and Revolution as “my reaction to now”. In describing his mood and state of mind during the recording he said he was “very optimistic and even euphoric creating this album”.
Euphoria translated into music from such as Lawrie may feel like am entirely different experience than with another musician. In this case his optimism has created nine tracks of intrinsic beauty and vigorous intensity.
An album like this needs your full attention. From the initial distorted guitar reverberations of This is Not a Dream through to the peaceful calm of closing track Haul Away the Anchor. The many textured rhythms throughout these nine songs capture the imagination and leave you with an overwhelming feeling of calm.
Sonic Waves Envelop You
Close your eyes and let the sonic waves take you as This is not a Dream envelops you. That feeling of eudaemonia increasing as Strange Waves takes hold, a strange but welcoming warmth in the intensity of the sound. Mesmerised. Well it does just as the label says. Lawrie’s breathy vocal having a sonorously soothing and uplifting effect. This track wouldn’t sound out of place alongside some of The Velvet Underground’s back catalogue.
The album continues in a similar vein, Come Bring Your Love’s delicate opening building into a thunderous cacophony. This Train underlining intermittent guitar squalls with an insistent pounding bassline. Only You’re Never Alone with Despair dents the euphoric feeling slightly with its affecting vocal and bringing a veil of darkness into proceedings. Penultimate song, We See Magic and We are Neutral, Unnecessary is a deeply resonant clamour of dissonant noise, a final cataclysm before the sea takes over…
The album ends with the alluringly sparse Haul Away the Anchor. This short track sees Lawrie move completely away from guitars. It is a touching and haunting take on a traditional Cornish sea shanty played only on a wind organ with an ambient backing of shore noise and seagulls. Lawrie recorded this as a tribute to his late father in law who died during the first COVID 19 lockdown. I’m sure anyone listening would be touched to have something as fragile and beautiful recorded as a tribute to them.
A most welcome addition to The Telescopes burgeoning catalogue. Put your headphones on, close your eyes, crank up the volume and enjoy.