Founded in 1987 by Stephen Lawrie. The Telescopes have been mining a unique anti-myopian seam of highly influential experimental, drone, noise, dream & psych for over 20 years.
Their first record was a split flex-disc with Loop on Cheree Records. After a further two critically acclaimed singles for the label, they moved to What Goes On Records, where they released another two EPs and their debut album “Taste”. All of which found their way to the top of the UK independent charts, gathering ‘single of the week’ / ‘album of the month’ status in all of the British music papers of the time.
Tours followed with Spacemen 3, Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain. And it wasn’t long before The Telescopes were headliners themselves. Bark Psychosis, Whipping Boy, Slowdive, Bleach, The Cranes and Ride all played some of their earlier shows supporting them. In 1990 the group appeared at one of the UK’s biggest festivals of the time, The Reading Festival. They were one of the few bands that weren’t bottled off the stage at the event. However, the increasing violent interactions with audiences at their shows saw the group step away from their noise origins and head towards a more introspective psychedelic sound. It was around this time that What Goes On folded and Alan McGee stepped in to release the group’s material from the hands of official receivership.
One of the more interesting bands that were signed to Creation Records. The group released their second album and a string of EPs for the label. Working with Douglas Hart (The Jesus and Mary Chain) on their videos, visual artist Paul Cannel on their sleeve work and Laika’s Guy Fixsen in the studio. The final EP for the label registered in the UK mainstream top 80 after being hit listed on BBC Radio 1 by Mark Goodyear. The group were also favoured by John Peel and recorded two BBC Radio 1 sessions for him. Marc Riley and Mark Radcliffe also had them in the studio for a session around the time of their 2nd album and MTV ran features. The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis described The Telescopes as having “an almost fragile sense of elegance and melody”.
Then in 1992 the group underwent an eight year hiatus, resuming output in the year 2000 with a revolving line up. A stream of releases followed on labels such as Double Agent (USA), Trensmat (Ireland), Champion Version (UK), Antenna (UK), Norman Records (UK), Static Charge (UK), Mind Expansion (USA), Fourier Transform (UK), Textile Records (France), Dream Machine Records (UK) and Hungry Audio (UK). Most physical copies selling out in advance.
“The Telescopes have resurfaced and I am amazed and glad they are still practicing their mysterious art” (John Peel)
AS LIGHT RETURN:
Evolving oscillations of guitar feedback screech and howl through thick layers of distortion. Overtones shift and drift and combine on a carpet of white noise. In the eye of the storm, the voice of Stephen Lawrie remains calm, almost detached. He intones a low, trance-like chant. The vocal is buried deep in the mix, the lyrics just barely discernible. “My specific intention is always to create a listening experience reaching beyond the realm of natural vision. I see duality and multiple meaning everywhere, this is reflected in the way my inspiration is formed, of impressions released in such a way where the meaning is subjective to the listener.”
As Light Return – The Telescopes are back with their ninth album. Founded by Lawrie in 1987, the band has been through various phases and a long list of different members and associates. This time he is joined once again by members of the band St Deluxe, tracking the album at the esteemed Riverside Music Complex in Glasgow. The only constant member of The Telescopes, however, is Stephen Lawrie himself. The variable constellation has become part of the concept. “It varies from live performance to live performance and on almost every record. I’m working on an album at the moment where I am doing everything myself. I play a lot of live shows with the drummer and bassist from The Koolaid Electric Company, we have a revolving selection of guitarists that play with us, ranging from one to as many as eight sometimes. I also play with completely different lineups and perform acoustic or noise shows either on my own or with others.”
As Light Return is The Telescopes’ second album for the Hamburg label Tapete Records, following the release of Hidden Fields in 2015. The new album maintains the balance of it’s predecessor, setting a parallel course between song based noise structures and freeform impressionism, while containing some of The Telescopes most crucial listening so far. “Every record I make is different from any others I have made 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. Yet despite having an uplifting album title, the subject matter on these recordings is a lot darker than on Hidden Fields.” Tracks like “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger”, “Hand Full Of Ashes” as well as the album’s similarly titled 14-minute closer “Handful Of Ashes” seem to contain an innate wisdom for the listener to decipher. “It’s human nature that interests me. I can be thinking about something very specific that I want to write about, then realise the basic thread I am following could be applied to a completely different subject altogether. I could break down each song and explain the thoughts behind every line and musical decisions made, but I feel it is intrusive on any personal connection the listener may have with the music. I don’t like things to get too literal.”
After thirty years of pursuing his singular artistic vision, Stephen 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 it’s 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.”
These songs pay no heed to conventionalities. This music has an implicit power. The listener is free to enter a vast sonic universe and determine a personal set of coordinates. “For things to change for the better around us we first have to change them for the better from within.”
As Light Return – from the harrowing void.
02.02.18 FR PARIS LA POINTE LAFAYETTE
04.02.18 CH VEVEY SESSION603
06.02.18 IT MILANO KRAKEN
08.02.18 IT ROME EVOL CLUB
09.02.18 IT FONTANAFREDDA ASTRO CLUB
10.02.18 IT RECANATI CIRCOLO DONG
11.02.18 IT MODENA ARCI DUDE
25.10.17 Uk – LONDON BREWHOUSE
26.10.17 Uk – BRIGHTON STICKY MIKE´S FROG
27.10.17 Uk – HARTLEPOOL THE STUDIO
31.10.17 ES - BILBAO KAFE ANTZOKIA
01.11.17 ES – SAN SEBASTIAN DABADABA
02.11.17 ES – MADRID MOBY DICK
03.11.17 PT – LEIRA TEXAS BAR
04.11.17 PT – LISBON SABOTAGE CLUB
05.11.17 ES – BADAJOZ MERCANTIL
06.11.17 ES _ PAMPLONA NEBULA BAR
07.11.17 ES – BARCELONA SALA UPLOAD
08.11.17 ES – TARRAGONA EL CAU
09.11.17 FR – PERPIGNAN ALLEZ VIENS
10.11.17 CH – MARTIGNY LA CAVES AU MANOIR
11.11.17 IT – BOLOGNA FREAKOUT
12.11.17 IT – ROMA FANFULLA
13.11.17 IT – ROME RADIO SESSION
15.11.17 DE – NUREMBERG Z-BAU
16.11.17 DE – HALLE HÜHNERMANHATTAN
18.11.17 Dk – AALBORG 100FRYD
19.11.17 DE – BERLIN BADEHAUS
20.11.17 DE – KÖLN SONIC BALROOM
21.11.17 FR – PARIS SUPERSONIC
22.11.17 UK – CARDIFF THE MOON
25/03/17 - LONDON - THE VICTORIA
22/07/17 - PAVIA - ROCK VALLEY FESTIVAL
02/09/17 - MANCHESTER - PSYCH FESTIVAL
22/09/2017 - LIVERPOOL PSYCH FEST