The Telescopes
# Untitled Second


ight and shade. Ying and yang. Richard and Judy. Controlled experimentation with silence and noise abounds, whilst psychedelia peaks from behind garish curtains. That’s the Telescopes for you; cheerily drugging people with lavender, leaving the room for a suitable length of time and returning dressed as menacing Egyptian deities. Purple-veiled eyes catch a blurred glimpse of jackal-faced horrors, pressing the mind into jackhammer focus. And yet, as quickly as they came, initial stabs of terror subside amidst angular stringed instruments, plucked by clawed hands. Soothing and lulling the room back to a plain of dreams ...

Prior to a Rev-Ola revival, this album had left the room for a very long time indeed. Out of luck upon first release and out of print thereafter, this reissue restores the ‘94 original and appends a couple of extra tracks (alternate versions of an arguably pointless nature). You could probably suggest, then, that the release should have been greater in scope. But only if you secretly yearn for the days when people will cast disparaging glances at you in the street.

Expanding to a super-mecha-foldout-bonus edition was never really the point; the intent of this reissue can surely only have been to make # available again. A pleasing decision for those who need more fizzing lemonade samples in their life (“Spaceships”), or enjoy their guitar sounds teasingly stretched. Indeed, the vast majority of this album sounds like it was lightly pinched between someone’s fingers and slowly elongated, adding an overriding sense of droning lethargy. It’s rather like that backwards Stone Roses track that everyone skips, except in this instance the techniques are employed far more subtly—providing a cohesive surrounding haze. Stephen Lawrie’s vocals gleefully embrace this style, ensuring that the word ‘grace’ can slip merrily across several bars and refuse to settle on any of them. An effect only aided by the occasionally-accompanying tones of Joanna Doran.

Amongst all this gloss, beneath the swirl and spray, there are pearls of quality to be glimpsed. “Splashdown” opens with a deceptive jangle before swelling to a repeated series of undulating choruses, usefully signposting the tone that will follow. Yet as if to defy those who may shamefully claim that the only Telescopes trick is to rearrange quiet and loud bits in about three different patterns, “You Set My Soul” maintains a restrained level of piano-induced calm. Handily returning to the watery imagery, “Ocean Drive” churns itself into a self-consuming frenzy of violence and foam. In contrast, “To The Shore” leaves us with but a whisper. Of course those aforementioned extras have to pop up in order to somewhat bloat the ending, but fortunately not to any kind of ruinous extent.

Existing in a barb-wired no-man’s land between Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain, # answers a question which is unlikely to have ever been asked. Probably something involving shoegazing, mild hallucinogens and the Midlands. This is irrelevant. The Telescopes bring you closer to the sky.

Reviewed by: Peter Parrish

Reviewed on: 2005-02-07

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