An Occasional Diversion #1: The Telescopes – Taste 30th Anniversary Special

Hello and welcome the very first edition of Anticipating Nowhere‘s sibling broadcast, An Occasional Diversion.

There is one band that has meant more to me than any other throughout my life – I say a band, it is really the meisterwerk of one man, Stephen Lawrie, and assorted sonic travellers – and that band is the telescopes.

The debut album, Taste, is 30 this year, released when I was a mere 17-year old. Stephen was a year older than me when he released it. Taste – the album and the telescopes, the artist – have soundtracked my life since my 16th year when I first heard their version of Tomorrow Never Knows. That track was featured on a free cassette given away with a fanzine, Two Pint Take Home 2 I believe. I was hooked then, even writing to the band and getting a couple of responses back from Jo Doran! Oh how my 17 year old heart leaped with joy.

To celebrate this landmark release, for me at least, I have put together this one-off mix to share with you all. Whilst the telescopes have covered sonic ground from punk, noise, sun-dappled psychedelia, pulsating electronics, and dark-narcosis this show focusses on the heavier, feedback-driven noise I fell in love with and that transformed my life. Fear not, whilst predominantly featuring those earlier releases I could not include some of the amazing releases Stephen is still producing today.

I think everyone has one artist in their life that speaks to them more than any other, and at all stages of their life – Stephen Lawrie is mine.

We begin with 4 tracks of raw, punky, primal, and concise (3 of the first 4 tracks clock in at under 2 minutes) guitar driven noise.

  1. Anticpating Nowhere, the very song after which my main Mixcloud show is named.

  2. This Is The Last of What’s Coming Now; the B-side to the debut 7″ single, Kick the Wall

  3. This Planet from the next release, 7th # Disaster, a 4 track EP released on Cheree

  4. SHC Burn from the incredible the perfect needle EP; a nigh-on perfect 12″ release

From here we leap to Stephen’s most recent album, Exploding Head Syndrome. This track, Everything Turns into You, is a deeply, moody, psychedelic, beast driven by tribalist drums and an insanely simple but addictive guitar line.

In Communiun with the Bishop is a glorious, drifting, blissful trip – waves of feedback and electronics soothing your very being. Working their way through your neurons to fill your entire being with pure, nourishing, goodness.

This eases us into You Can’t Reach What you Hunger from As Light Return. The bands second release on Germany’s Tapete Records. This album, and the one before it, Hidden Fields (also on Tapete) saw Stephen return to more guitar-based song structures following forays into deep, heavy noise, dark electronic psychedelia and instrument/object manipulation.

Singularity is another one of those tracks where I lose myself; gorgeous drones, gently picked guitar, fuzzed guitars and Stephen and Jo’s voices calmly hypnotising you. So, so beautiful I can’t even find the words……

Boom. From beauty to Violence which is just that; dark, brooding, heavy walls of guitar, with an uncomplicated, yet complimentary drum and Stephen’s pleading voice. Then the feedback kicks and oh my days – beauty in noise. This takes me somewhere else altogether. Immense and mesmeric. And then it stops. Just like that. We are done.

Strange Waves is taken from the very latest release, the Strange Waves EP. Two tracks covering side 1 and etchings quite literally covering side 2. More of that pulsating, driving, drumming, this time from John Lynch, a wonderful man and drummer who has worked with Stephen for many years now. More and more of that beautiful noise. ‘Question Everything’ implores (instructs) Stephen. Indeed

Only once do I venture into the darker, pulsating, electronic phase, not because I like it any less, but most of those tracks would not sit so well in this selection. However, Second Darkness is a pulsating, heady, motorik trip backed with swirling, anguished cries and audio snippets from, if I remember correctly, The Lord of The Rings.

We revisit the perfect needle EP with #; this track was a revelation to me; my adolescent brain had never heard anything like it before. The movement, the flow, the discordant sounds; they all knocked me sideways and I knew the way I listened to music had changed forever. Mixcloud would not let me upload the song as # so I had to add the [Hashtag] to the end. Sorry Stephen, not sure what the real title is.

From here we switch gear, to the to kill a slow girl walking EP; the title track was familiar territory but the extra tracks saw Stephen and the band taking a more psychedelic fork in the road; narcotic,atmospheric fuzzed up guitars and stabbing brass on this track, treasure.

I close the show in the same manner as I close Anticipating Nowhere shows, on a mellower tone to gently bring things to an end. This final track, and let me drift away, is the first track from Taste; you could say it is the calm before the storm. Shimmering guitars, gorgeous violin and brass and Stephen’s gentle, plaintive voice. Listen to the album and then wait for this track to end and the second to begin. It may well not be as you expect.

If you have never heard the album before I hope this show makes you want to dive in. I hope it can provide even just a small level of the enjoyment it has given me. and let me drift away indeed.

Mixcloud limits the number of tracks in each show that you can play from an artist and an album; if you are reading this blog it means I have cheated the system enough to get this show published! Hence the tracklisting below – I had to suffix the artist name with the release each track was from to get it through the filters.

Also, for this one mix, I have not adjusted the song levels, I have left them as they are recorded so some songs are louder than others but hey, who cares!

#thetelescopes #anoccasionaldiversion #stephenlawrie #taste #anticipatingnowhere

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