The Telescopes: The Spaciest of Space-Rock Bands
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 11:32 AM
(Comet) In the late '80s and early '90s, the Telescopes challenged Spacemen 3 and Loop for UK space-rock supremacy. Stephen Lawrie and company veered more toward Loop's Stooges-esque savagery than S3's more devotional, stellar hymns: Their early songs seesawed between psychotic psych-rock turmoil and dreamy yet unnerving bliss-outs. When the 'Scopes signed to Creation Records, they embraced '60s California psychedelia and even executed an ebullient cover of Charles Manson's (via the Beach Boys) "Never Learn Not to Love." Recent recordings prove that the Telescopes haven't softened in their advanced age, with gritty forays into abstract noise and hypnotic, enigmatic rock composition. LSD and the Search for God's name sets you up for unrealistic expectations. The San Francisco band don't live up to their handle, but their self-titled 2007 EP on Randall Nieman's Mind Expansion label radiates understated beauty. Its five songs conjure a swirling magenta blur of rock somewhere between Souvlaki-era Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine circa Loveless. The hooks and taffeta male/female vocals are submerged in FX'd drones, coaxing that familiar aura of mystery that shoegaze fans lurve.