Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Tapete Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Unlike their shoegaze counterparts, who faded away long ago but are now coming out of the woodwork to re-form, the Telescopes never really went away. They kept plugging along in different incarnations with interesting detours into trip-hop, avant-garde electronics, and full-on noise experiments. Hidden Fields, their first record with Tapete, a label mostly known for collecting singer/songwriters of a certain age, finds them reaching back to their early days as a band.
The Telescopes have gone from being something of an anomaly in Creation's fortuitous rollercoaster ride to one of the most innovative collectives operating under the "psych" modus operandi today. Twenty-seven years after their first release, founder member and creative force Stephen Lawrie has confounded expectations again. Since the dissolution of the band's original line-up shortly after 1992's self-titled second album, Lawrie has surrounded himself with an assortment of musicians from all corners of the experimental spectrum both live and in the studio.
All music is art. Whether or not you like that piece of art is largely irrelevant for you to be able to appreciate the creativity process from which it came. But even art with little instant appeal to your ears and eyes has the power to enhance, if given the chance to do so. If you’re a newcomer to the wonders of The Telescopes, then you must first put aside all preconceptions of what type of music appeals to you and simply focus on the fact that it is unequivocally art.
Authenticity matters to music fans – and you can be pretty sure that The Telescopes mean it, maaan. Once signed to Creation, they dropped out of their indie rock career only for Stephen Lawrie and collaborators to return years later with a sound at times more akin to full-on noise, and to a second life currently about three times longer than the first. For this short album, they are employing songs once more, albeit songs of a murky drone-rock downer variety, with one half of the album consisting of a hair-ruffling, cool-breeze-on-the-rocks 15-minute epic.
The Telescopes might have formed way back in 1987, though on Hidden Fields it's as if they're drawing on the dawning of time itself for influence, an atavistic maelstrom as momentous as the first day. They're certainly not the only band to record an album of beautiful, ear-shredding drone noise of course, but few groups manage to conflate sensory overload with such a keen sense of melody. It's these shards of tune that peak through the sonic wall of noise that hint at humanity and the frailty that goes with it.