Album Review/Dominic Valvona

The Telescopes ‘Song Of Love And Revolution’ (Tapete Records)  5th February 2021

You could say that it was a special kind of calling to draw scuzz sculptured drones and a psychedelic morose from the well of despair for over thirty years. The Telescopes have continued unabated, and through various chapters of sorrow to be hypnotised sonically towards an abyss. There’s unfortunately always enough pain, torment, distress and redemption each year to motivate such concentrations of both sludge driven rock ‘n’ roll crash-and-burn and Mogadon induced hymns.

Written and recorded before the recent death of the band’s founding member and celebrated cult lead guitarist David Fitzgerald (passing away last November from cancer), The Telescopes 12th album in three decades of stop-and-starts does feel at times like a befitting tribute to his memory; drawing on all the signature caustic, abrasive and whining guitar lines and pendulous and esoteric tribal drum patters. Stephen Lawrie, who remains as the only original founding member and custodian of the faith, once more drifts in and out of the dense fuzz, guitar angling and incense burning atmospherics with his low and mesmerised hushed vocal burr.  

Despite all the talk of the despairing density, The Telescopes find glimmers of light, a way out of the grief and despondency. They even end up on a deserted beach front, accompanied by only a codex finale of concertinaed sea shanty, the lapping tide and the song of seagulls on the album’s outro, ‘Haul Away The Anchor’.

Reimagining the Os Mutantes on downers, the Dream Syndicate and BRMC on a particular bad turn, the band make quite the opening statement with the rhythmic white noise séance ‘This Is Not A dream’. They follow that pulsation, heavy Meta by surfing the tube of a more apocalyptic beach on the fangs-out, sleaze and scuzzy ‘Strange Waves’. Skulking yet almost choral, leaning towards the Spaceman 3, even Spiritualized, they ride a wave of psychosis. By the time we reach the hypnotised beatific spiritualism of ‘Mesmerised’ itself, they’re burning candles at the alter of a mystical Byzantium Velvet Underground. The Telescopes bound back into suitable menacing, squalling energetics aboard ‘This Train’; an altogether more dangerous ushering in of the train metaphor for momentum (“a change is coming”) of civil rights American soul. This is musically something more in keeping with the shadow creeping moodiness of Berlin-period Crime And The City Solution, and even Suicide then rallying cry of change, or augur.

By now The Telescopes can turn out this kind of drone-heavy squalling doom and downer pysch in their sleep. They continue as guardians of this form, elder statesmen, able however to entice the faithful and keep their loyal audience intrigued and interested enough to lap it all up. And as the catalogue goes Song Of Love And Revolution is a pretty immersive, solid and brooding experience: spiritual if despondent in part, a call to escape the despair. There’s love somewhere in this ritual, but you’ll have to drag it out of them.  Dominic Valvona

Further Reading Suggestions:

The Telescopes ‘Exploding Head Syndrome

The Telescopes ‘Hidden Fields

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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