The Telescopes – You Can’t Reach What You Hunger

• “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger” original music video. Thanks to tapeterecords.

9.3 “Classic Dream Pop / Shoegaze from England”

A single release in February, 2017. Later served as the opening track on their “As Light Return” album, released in July, 2017.

Stephen Lawrie’s Telescopes are sounding as gut-wrenchingly beautiful as ever, more than 30 years after forming. Dark, heavy and addictive, “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger” is a modern-day classic of the shoegaze genre.

The housing album’s presser nails it:

Evolving oscillations of guitar feedback screech and howl through thick layers of distortion. Overtones shift and drift and combine on a carpet of white noise. In the eye of the storm, the voice of Stephen Lawrie remains calm, almost detached. He intones a low, trance-like chant. The vocal is buried deep in the mix, the lyrics just barely discernible.

The Telescopes are back with their ninth album. Founded by Lawrie in 1987, the band has been through various phases and a long list of different members and associates. This time he is joined once again by members of the band St Deluxe, tracking the album at the esteemed Riverside Music Complex in Glasgow.

As Light Return is The Telescopes’ second album for the Hamburg label Tapete Records, following the release of Hidden Fields in 2015. The new album maintains the balance of it’s predecessor, setting a parallel course between song based noise structures and freeform impressionism, while containing some of The Telescopes most crucial listening so far.

These songs pay no heed to conventionalities. This music has an implicit power. The listener is free to enter a vast sonic universe and determine a personal set of coordinates.

Lawrie likes to lay down the canvas and let you create your own picture:

I found myself in a position in the early 90s where the main concern everyone around me had was whether or not the next song I wrote was a hit. Looking back now it’s obvious The Telescopes were never going to be that kind of a deal, but at the time it was a severe distraction that took a long while to shake off. I have learned more about keeping sight of the things that inspired me to create in the first place and not to compromise them in any way.

It’s human nature that interests me. I can be thinking about something very specific that I want to write about, then realise the basic thread I am following could be applied to a completely different subject altogether. I could break down each song and explain the thoughts behind every line and musical decisions made, but I feel it is intrusive on any personal connection the listener may have with the music. I don’t like things to get too literal.

For things to change for the better around us we first have to change them for the better from within.