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The Telescopes (UK) 'As Light Return
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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 "Handfull 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 focussed 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
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