The Telescopes in The Workman’s Club on November 13th 2014
All Tomorrow’s Parties seem to have a knack for rejuvenation. The Telescopes released their first single Forever Close Your Eyes in 1988, a split 7” flexi-disc with Loop just one year after their formation. In recent years, both bands have played at ATP festivals – the former as invitees of Portishead at the 2011 city event in London and the latter as joint curators of the final ‘End Of An Era: Part 2’ shindig. Both bands’ trance-like noise creation remains as absorbing as ever.
It’s been almost seven years since The Telescopes’ last album ‘Infinite Suns’, although singles have been trickling out in the interim, and a new album is currently in progress at Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe’s Berlin recording studio.
Tonight is the first date of their Irish tour with The Vincent(s). The touring gods aren’t on the side of the Cork band on this rain-soaked occasion, though, as the group broke down en route to Dublin – mechanically, that is. As such, tonight’s rumbling drones are provided solely by the headlining quartet. Singer and founding member Stephen Lawrie’s mic stand is locked at half-mast at the front of the stage, a symbol of respect for their fallen comrades; a fanciful notion, granted – more practically, it’s because he spends a good part of the set doubled over howling or on his knees on the floor.
As the elongated, squalling intro gives way to Perfect Needle, Lawrie frequently modifies his vocal with the amp at the side of the stage and via pedals on the floor, wringing it through varying degrees of distortion and echo. The guitarist steps down onto the dancefloor mid-set, playing and swaying as Lawrie howls into the mic during the lengthiest portion of the set, a hypnotic oscillating wall of noise. The guitar is a sonic tool to be handled without care; strings are scraped off the edge of the stage, the head is driven onto whatever surface is nearby, while the neck is caressed with bottleneck or paintbrush to elicit varying levels of texture.
As the momentum slows to a crawl, the drummer, although seated, is the tallest man onstage, as each player descends to the floor to engage in their own insular auditory tinkering. Things gradually solidify; a beat emerges from the dense mire, spacey vocals intone, and the drummer becomes a flurry of hair as the accelerator is pressed towards a crescendo.
Once reached, the stage empties; a guitar propped on its side against the amp is the only sign of sentience, emitting a constant chopping hum of feedback. On it goes, and on, until the venue’s fire alarm goes off as if in some sort of chaotic discordant harmony. Nobody leaves.