Sunday, 10 July 2016

How to destroy rock n roll - an evening with The Telescopes

They make fucking noise.

The Telescopes make beautiful fucking noise.

It's been a while since I was actually in New Cross. I pass through it - but don't stop there so much (can't stop, won't stop) - not since those heady university Goldsmiths' daze. Which is pretty much where The Telescopes came in. Okay - I first found my love for their sonic shakes whilst living out life with a bowlhead and bag on the mean streets of Scunthorpe - a northern town to bring you right down.  The Cheree realeased Kick The Wall - summing up all that teenage frustration in guitars and screams.  On hearing Stephen and Co's cacophony I decided that I liked it and wanted to taste a little more - and I pursued it with abandon in my early university time.

So I set about going to a number of gigs of theirs - early days for them and late nights for me. It was clear then - as it was with tonight's concert - that The Telescopes take no prisoners. They just play hard motherfucking rock n squall - and that my friends is exactly as it should be. Early Telescopes had that Iggy/ Stooges/ Spaceman thing going - no down tempo numbers full on sonics and screams.

I sent letters - mainly to Jo - and Stephen as well - interviewed them for a fanzine - jumped myself silly at gigs - supported them in Hull - watched them play with The Mary Chain and then slowly I stopped listening for a while. It was those repetitive beats - pulling me somewhere else.

But now here I was again waiting for a set of something - and to be honest I wasn't expecting it to be that hard - that brutal - but I felt challenged and that's good - it makes you think - it makes you question music. And as that's my bag - tonight's Telescopes - so different to years gone past - but so bloody-minded and similar in repose and attitude - did just that. They destroyed rock n roll for all around and simply put it back together in layers of reverb and hate.

The day was billed as a Psych All Dayer  - but I was making an evening of it. I tend to end up at these things on my own - my 45 year old set don't go in for this type of abuse - so I arrived for a set from Black Seas - a five piece Jaguar guitars and tweed sort of thing - they had noise and jangle - a touch of early valentines and a singer prowling and sending deep reverberations around - I guess it was a Nick Cave type thing - but with none of the presence and he was wearing a Nike t-shirt - so I'm not having that. You've got to put some effort in.

This was followed by a transcendental trumpet and electronica pyschedelic workout by two blokes under the name Hirvikolari - they started with dub echoes and bleeps and pretty much kept it that way as a colossal twenty minute beast was unleashed with modular pulses and repetition. I liked it - I liked their style.

Next - Melt Dunes - young psych upstarts - with loud guitars and hair - I quite like d them to be honest - a bit Sabbath - a bit of this and that - but their was conviction and a sense of  show - some youth down the front showing that he dug it - I liked that - this band will have fans - they will show their appreciation. They finished with a cover -  and I can't remember it's name - but it was fantastic - all
repetitive and shouting - they will certainly make some memorable records.

And then to The Telescopes - this brooding thing - slowly lumbering to the stage from the caves - finally alive and hungry. Stephen has been ploughing this field for some time now - incarnations of The Telescopes - forever looking further and beyond the now - exploring new space with a set of like minded 'cavemen'.  This current line up found Dave Gryphon on three stringed bass - 'Why would I need a G?', Stuart Gardham ( I think - but I might be wrong) stretching the sonics through six strings and John or Jon hitting the skins - warrior like - in control and controlling. Stephen spends most of the night crouched down - kneeling on the stage - listening and adding - sending his vocals spinning out and out into space ringing around and around - merging and melding into one noise - one beautiful noise.

If truth be told - I didn't recognise a song - there was a fella and his wife  - had waited all day for this - he was wearing a Chapterhouse t-shirt - he didn't stick around - they weren't playing the hits. Not that that would be a bad thing - The Telescopes have an army of tunes - they just decided that this wasn't the place to play them - or if it was - present them in such a manner that meant they became something else. Feedback jazz - was my bag that night.

It's hard to describe the sheer force of this group - it is not noodling or sonic fuckery for the fun of it - it seems to me that they actually want to push the limits of sound. I was on such a buzz on it finishing - it felt like I'd been fought with - punched and dazed - half the crowd had made it through the door - pushed themselves away. It was confrontational pop music. I can only imagine it must have been like witnessing Suicide or Throbbing Gristle for the first time.  It was not for the faint hearted. It wanted to fucking eat us all up - but there was subtlety and simmering within - at one point with all members fallen to the floor pushing their instruments against speakers and stage - vibrating - shaking - as Stephen howled down the microphone there came about a point of sudden bliss coupled with an expectation that we had hit new heights - that rock n roll was dead and somehow it needed to be saved - it needed raizing from the dead. And all that we had learned came crashing down in that sound - it was offerring a new perspective on these South London streets.

The Telescopes were asking us to think - in this nostalgia fuelled era (of which I'm completely guilty - but I mean it maaaaaan - I truly do ) they didn't represent the past - and sell t shirts and CDs of glory days - they simply put that aside - they continued to breathe new breaths - new life and grew into this. I turned 45 this year - why should Stephen be stuck being 19 - we've all moved on. I'm glad I took th etrip back to past memories. I left New Cross just as the Venue crowd were lining up to get in. Times have changed - I first met Duglas from BMX bandits there - I got the feeling that the BMX Bandits would not be on the Venue's playlist tonight.

So why stick with the past?

I feel Stephen an Co are still trying to explore what can be done - they are still kicking against the wall. Even if it means that they don't necessarily play 'Kick the Wall'. Do you get me?

You should try it though actually having a night with The Telescopes. It's modern. It's vital. It's music pushed to its limits.

It's a fun night out.

One from the new long player