the Telescopes - Second SightSplendidly awkward, the telescopes new album comes complete with song bong and a verbal peace salute to the world. Julian Carrere follows the path to peaceful resistance. Photo: Mike Stone
"Hello," says Stephen, "This is your inner self."
"No, this a call box", replies blue rinse Stephen double-backs in hysterics; the blur-rinse motors off in her comfortable car. The other Telescopes, myself and Smudge Stone, previously all peering from any vantage point, join the lead singer in giggles. I've not laughed so much in a good few years (yes, yod had to be there). This may be just part of the Telescopes peaceful resistance to the world and it's ills. Travelling up to Burton earlier that day, out of the train window I spied mile upon lary yellow mile of oil speed rape. Way back when, Oil Seed Rape, a fitful rage of a song, turned up on Taste, the Telescopes first longplayer. And like me nowadays the Telescopes are a hundred miles an hour beyond that. Three years on, or thereabouts, and the Telescopes have returned with a splendidly awkward, yet emotive and pleasing album. An album that may have no name, but, well, it speaks for itself. What more could you ask for?
Album, Telescopes or High'r 'n' High'r (names that various reviewers have pinned on the record - revelation! - it has no name) is chalk to Taste's cheesiness. Where in 1989 the Telescopes raged and spat bile (and audiences spat back) now life sees these four young men and one young girl following a path of introspection, reflection and tenderness, it's good mood music.
"It's good attitude music as well." replies Stephen, "I think there's a lot of double edged things in it. And I think it's as rock 'n' roll as the next album. I don't think it's just blissed out."
"It was a total disregard of conventions. We're no genius players or jazz extraordinaires, but we have a lot of imagination. We threw out crazy ideas, we always have done, and people have usually said, 'No, you can't do that', but this was like trying all our ideas out and Guy (Fixsen - Producer) was clappin' his hands and going' mad!"
Splashdown is incredible. Stephen sounds too fucked, an almost silent resistance ("Surrender still abused me, Universes Me, You can't confuse me now") as he whispers. A verbal peace sign...the sounds are a paradise. Fixsen has helped the 'Scopes translate all those "mad ideas" into sound and form. There's nuances here that leap out on every listen. In the present recession climate, forgive me, but adventure is the last thin on most's mind
"The whole thing about making any music is that you've got to be adventurous and try things," comments Stephen, "That's what we're like as people."
"Taste is similar in a lot of ways: it's extreme. What it sounded like is what we were like - pretty chaotic people. A basic fuck-you attitude, fuck everything attitude. We knew what we didn't like, but we didn't know what we did like. Now we've found what we do like."
"If you'd asked me then to sing You Set My Soul, there's no way I would've got my fuckin' head round it." he smiles. "There probably would've been a double bass on it either."
"Playing on stage with a double bass...(long pause)... it's a great feeling."
"I was tripping off me head and I went to see this band. I was standing at the bar and I heard these chords strike up and they sounded really familiar."
"It was There is no Floor and they did it note for note. I was having a bad time on that. I thought while I was watching it, naah, it's just the acid, but if I was straight I probably would've run out or thrown a bottle at them."
Despite this personal disaster of an anecdote, they aren't too precious. The lp includes a songbook (chords and all) and their biggest pleasure would be for a band to do the album better than they have!
"It's very much how I learnt to play the guitar," explains Stephen, "I had a pocket book and everytime I wanted another chord I'd just look one up."
"At the end of the day we want to share our music. We're not stuck up about it."
And the music? Well it's gorgeously crafted. It'll take a lot of adjusting to if you spend all day listening to To Kill A Slow Girl Walking. But, if you're half a mind, no problem. Raptured, enraptured, exalted, swirling, lazy, nervous, fresh and brash: a two fingered salute to the indie kid nativity.
Joanna: "Some people need music like eating or sleeping."
Stephen: "I'll stick a record on when I get up in the morning. It's a great thing; it makes you feel all sorts of special ways."
He adds, by way of a whisper, "It's a Religion."
Don't be shy: believe.
Originally appeared in Lime Lizard July 1992. Copyright © Lime Lizard.