The Telescopes - Hidden Fields

by Sean Hewson Rating:9 Release Date:2015-08-10

I saw The Telescopes live at some point in 1988 or 1989 because I quite liked 'The Perfect Needle' and not many bands came to Reading. I also remember seeing them on Snub TV a few years later looking slightly baggy. That is the extent of my knowledge. I was therefore not prepared for how awesome this album is.

On Hidden Fields the only remaining founder member, Stephen Lawrie, is backed by Scottish band St Deluxe and they make such a beautiful noise together. 'You Know the Way' is two-chord noise-rock with a simple vocal melody. 'Absence' is closer to Spacemen 3 - drum-less but well-paced, the drones and tremolo growing around Lawrie's understated vocal.

'In Every Sense' is, again, beautifully paced, almost stately. The simple drums and fuzz-bass laying the foundations for another two-chord drone epic. The vocal melodies on this album are always simple, all the better to serve the unfolding noise. Lawrie's voice is deep and throaty and has been mixed to sit in with the guitar drones. He delivers his lines and then lets the sound build up around him. Don't Bring Me Round is simpler still, built around a quietly pounding, Moe Tucker-like, bass drum and tambourine beat, with the guitars feeding back wildly. But the noise lulls rather than punishes.
The final track, The Living Things, is a 15 minute epic. I thought the human race had lost the ability to make this kind of drugged-out, shagged-out, drone porn. Every now and then you would get glimpses of it; for instance, at the beginning of The Mercy Seat by Ultra Vivid Scene, or Forever by Loop or in the bass-driven intros to Teenage Lust and Heat by The Jesus & Mary Chain, but you'd never get 15 minutes of it. The Living Things is 15 minutes of a simple bass and drum pattern with guitars droning and squealing over the top. Occasionally they are joined by Lawrie's vocal. Nothing really changes or develops but I could listen to it for hours. Sex, drugs and rock'n' roll is not silly old sods like The Rolling Stones or confused, rock biography readers like Primal Scream, it's guys that can make music like this.
There is an art to making this kind of music correctly. Broken down, the parts are simple and often unchanging. It sounds easy but the players have to be egoless - playing two chords or one, simple beat for the duration of the songs. Most bands can't touch what The Telescopes have done on Hidden Fields. Most bands can't even understand it. The added bonus to this album is that I now have 20 years of back catalogue to catch up on. 

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