Say Psych: Album Review: The Telescopes – As Light Return

Rating: 7/10

The Telescopes return with their ninth album, As Light Return released on German label Tapete Records on 7th July 2017 on vinyl, CD and digital formats. The brain child of Stephen Lawrie in 1987, the band have undergone many changes with Lawrie the only remaining constant. On this occasion he is joined by member of St Deluxe, with the album tracked at the esteemed Riverside Music Complex in Glasgow.

The new LP maintains the balance of its predecessor, Hidden Fields, and sets a course between structured noise and the freedom to roam. When asked about the progression of the band, Lawrie states “every record I make is different from any others I have made it so there is no control to measure against except to say that The Telescopes house has many rooms and, like the previous album, this album takes a peak inside every room rather than remaining in one.”

With the announcement of a slot at this years Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, after thirty years of pursuing his artistic vision, you could forgive Lawrie for feeling jaded. But to the contrary, Lawrie is more focused than ever; “I found myself in a position in the early 90s where the main concern everyone around me had was whether or not the next song I wrote was a hit. Looking back now its obvious The Telescopes were never going to be that kind of a deal, but at the time it was a severe distraction that took a long while to shake off. I have learned more about keeping sight of the things that inspired me to create in the first place and not to compromise them in any way.”

Opening with fuzz laden riffs, ‘You Can’t Reach What You Hunger’ features clever distortion whilst maintaining a melodic shoegaze vibe. The lyrics are barely discernible but the distinct voice of Lawrie appears through the haze. ‘Down on Me’ continues the vocal detachment whilst repetition creates a droned chant. Layers of white noise provide the back drop to the soundscape through evolving oscillations of guitar feedback. ‘Hand Full of Ashes’ draws influence from the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum with a pounding rhythm section, layers of fuzz and drone and a shifting reverberation.

‘Something In My Brain’ lets up temporarily before plunging head first into distortion. Atonal riffs intersperse playfully with fuzz laden noise and evocative vocals. A repeated guitar element adds a spine to the track whilst other elements come and go creating a sway to the sound. Concluding ‘Handful of Ashes’ encompasses some 14 minutes of noise; with oscillating frequencies, layered tones, vocals buried amongst said tones and a countenance that is such it would enthral any audience live.

The Telescopes are a name familiar with anyone who has been around the psychedelic genre in the past ten years and this release will be welcome to their ears, whilst at the same time attracting new fans who like anything slightly darker than the norm.

Previous Live: Einstürzende Neubauten - Dark Mofo Festival , Hobart, Tasmania, 17 June 2017
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