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The Telescopes | Third Wave (Double Agent)
Nine Years. That's a hell of an amount of time to be lost in the wilderness. Feared dead after the fall of the Creation Empire in the early '90s, The Telescopes drift into focus again with a complete reinvention, rather than a comeback. Although the core of Stephen Lawrie and Jo Doran remains intact, the Velvets/MBV comparisons of old are no longer valid, as a kaleidoscope of lush electronica, ambient washes and groovebox clatter now form the musical backdrop. Lawrie seems liberated by the eclectic arsenal of instrumentation at his disposal, as his compositions are allowed to breathe freely with the assistance of various collaborative musicians, including Fuxa's Randall Nieman, bringing his trademark interstellar fizz to the proceedings. Luscious cello and violin embellishments, reminiscent of 'Pacific Ocean Blue' orchestrations, envelop the familiar vocal harmonies of Lawrie and Doran on opener 'A cabin in the sky' and usher in the varied and ambitious moods of the album. The open-ended arrangements of many of the songs here operate in an idiom akin to the early work of The Beta Band, but the tone here is far moodier. Indeed, darker currents are negotiated via the jazz squall of '3D Jesus ashtray' and the Throbbing Gristle-esque surveillance recordings of 'A good place to hide'. This unexpected release shows The Telescopes to be quite an interesting 21st century proposition, having severed many ties with the past. Maybe a slightly more prolific work rate wouldn't hurt, though.

Simon Berkovitch
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002

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