The Telescopes - Stone Tape [Cold Spring Records - 2019]Shoegaze on Cold Spring? Sure makes more sense than Southern Rock on Earache! With their 10th LP, The Telescopes have shown that they've come a long way since the classic The Perfect Needle. Drifting, droning, and perfectly warbling, 2017's Stone Tape shows a mature, experimental approach to standard Shoegaze. This release is certainly a surprise, but very highly welcome.
Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, and many materials hold this energy for indefinite periods of time. Stone in particular holds onto this past energy, and this was the basis for the 1972 British teleplay, The Stone Tape. Using the stone building as the research for a new recording medium, the scientists unleash the secrets of the past by replaying the energy held by the stones. It is from this that The Telescopes get their inspiration for their latest, Stone Tape. The energy released on this LP feels like it's from an alternate timeline. One where Donovan was bigger than The Beatles, and "Hurdy Gurdy Man" was everyone's anthem. Dark, fuzzy, slightly psychedelic, Stone Tape slowly churns forth, unfurling a distorted, oscillating carpet upon which The Telescopes jam. Heavier than expected, The Telescopes spread this heaviness out, slowly and deliberately in a manner that allows the music to remain crispy and accessible. Having untied the shoelaces of shoegaze, The Telescopes remove the constraints of traditional structure and allow the fuzz and beat to ooze into any crevice and corner in the listener's ear. With the vocals urging them forward, the instruments stretch and twist, making an uncomfortable but wonderful racket. Though it's not all dark and stormy, as "Silent Water" pulls forth that sunny Donovan sound and blasts it with dense tremolo. Like waves bringing in the sunset, "Silent Water" brings the sun down on Stone Tape (although not the final song, but it is definitely the harbinger).
Cold Spring's re-issue of the limited pressing Stone Tape is a great way to get this underheard gem out to the public. With the addition of a bonus track, this reissue is the version to get. While seeing The Telescopes on Cold Spring may be a surprise to many, hearing the dense music contained with show that CSR knows what they're doing. Again, it's a long way from The Perfect Needle, but this is certainly a trip worth taking.Paul Casey