Growing Eyes Becoming String by The Telescopes

Release date: February 9, 2024
Label: Fuzz Club Records

Well, of course The Telescopes would have a ‘lost’ album. It only stands to reason once you start to think about it. They’re just the sort of long running, underground, cult concern to have misplaced a whole album somehow along their way. Not through record company intransigence, tape theft or inter band squabbling, no, Growing Eyes Becoming String went missing due to the more modern curse of the crashed hard drive.

As the music here was created entirely in the moment during sessions in Berlin and Leeds. It wasn’t material the band had rehearsed and played live and could simply take another go at recording, so it slipped through the digital cracks. For this version of The Telescopes Stephen Lawrie was backed by London experimentalists One Unique Signal and it was one of their guitarists, Byron Jackson, who turned up long forgotten back-ups of these sessions a few years ago. Lawrie spent time finishing up the recordings over the pandemic and now, a little over a decade late, it arrives as The Telescopes sixteenth album.          

 

Perhaps this twist of fate explains the cover image of the eye of providence which in its turn makes the puzzling title Growing Eyes Becoming String snap immediately into focus. It seems a natural fit to follow last year’s Of Tomorrow, it’s heavier, with nothing as fully formed as ‘Only Lovers Know’, but they complement one another well. For fans of Telescopes chronology it would originally have landed between Harm and Hidden Fields, both recorded with different line ups to this. It has far more in common with the drone rock tunes of the latter than the side long noisescapes of the former including, but not limited to, a tune of that name.   

‘(In The) Hidden Fields’ is the most pounding and driven track here, with more of an edge of menace on it. The album in general is sleepy-eyed, slow motion and hypnotic, Lawrie’s drawling vocals sinking into its hazy grooves. Starting up with a crackle and soft strum ‘Vanishing Lines’ settles itself into a steady pattern, bursts of volume adding emphasis. The video for ‘What You Love’, featuring film clips from the snowy Berlin session, captures the record’s prevailing mood of being blanketed and half awake. Closing the record’s first half ‘We Carry Along’ is a drowsy lullaby that actually seems to be curtailed by the weather.   

The three songs on the second side are variations on this somnambulant mood, flowing into each other as parts of the whole. ‘Get Out Of Me’ is a patient slow burn working up an impressive intensity with no increase in tempo, ‘What You Love’ a mesmerising sway. The final ‘There Is No Shore’ rides the simplest of bass lines out towards the horizon through soft squalls of fuzz and feedback. It’s the song the band have been finishing live sets with recently. Lost, now found and looking to get lost again.  

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