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21 December 2013

WTSH Top 10 Releases of 2013 Series: Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes + Interview.

Top 10 Releases of 2013 Series
For the next several weeks, WTSH will be posting a series of Top 10 LPs of 2013 lists submitted by a variety of musicians, artists, writers, records labels, djs and other industry-related folk who were kind enough to participate. These lists are great opportunities to discover releases that you may have missed throughout the year, as well as to learn more about the persons behind the lists. 

First up is the incomparable Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes. Also included below is a new interview WTSH recently conducted with Stephen. Enjoy!

Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes
Top 10 Releases of 2013

Body/Head || Coming Apart
Wolf Eyes || No Answer/Lower Floors
The Dead C || Armed Courage
The Velvet Underground || White Light/White Heat (45th Anniversary Edition)
Wölfbait || Wölfbait
Grouper || The Man Who Died In His Boat
Black Sun Roof || 4 Black Suns And A Sinister Rainbow
Bridget Hayden || Shipwrecked
One Unique Signal || Aether
Hookworms || Pearl Mystic


In September you released "Harm", the 7th Telescopes LP. Could you tell the readers a little about the recording process and your choice to tune all instruments to 444 Hz for the recording?
Well basically, Michael Stock from the Part Time Punks radio show in Los Angeles invited us in for a live session. I was playing with LSD and the Search for God and Ricky Maymi at the time, who were all tuning to 444, which I found interesting. A lot has been written about 444 Hz being in tune with the earth and a healing frequency that the ancients were dialed into; I really wasn't on that kind of a trip, but I went with it. I was post apocalypse with loose co-ordinates, out to hear the speakers bleed. It was an interesting collision. It felt beyond the realm, and instinctive, like remembering a forgotten language. The recording process was simple. We had a good engineer in Drew Fischer. We'd discuss everything, have a run through and that was it - recorded. We knew we had it down. It was all about the mixing from there on. Hearing it back, I found it surprisingly more healing than harmful. It felt like the definitive versions of the songs, so we had an album.

How would you describe your progression of sound from 2008's "Infinite Suns" to this year's "Harm"?
Sound-wise, Infinite Suns is harsh and mainly instrumental, whereas HARM is soothing in comparison and has vocals and lyrics. Progression isn't something I'm personally concerned with.

You have a particular talent for releasing really strong, impactful EPs. LPs as well, of course! But to me, the EPs feel like perfect pieces of art every time. Do you have a fondness for the EP format, or is it just me being weird?
Not at all. We do release more EP's than albums, so maybe there's a fondness that comes with familiarity. But I do love LPs just as much.

What's on the agenda for The Telescopes in 2014?
We have a record coming out on Fuzz Club Records, another on the Dream Machine label and a split single with Deadly Cradle Death. There's another album taking shape as well.

I feel that 2013 has been an exceptionally strong year for music - so many amazing releases this year. How do you feel about the music of 2013, in general? How do you think The Telescopes fit into that landscape?
It's really encouraging when you consider how record sales have taken a dive for everyone. It's a testament to those who manage to continue. And like you say, there's a lot of good stuff out there at the moment. I think maybe the resurgence of live shows has induced a positive effect for many. I do think it helps. I can play a show and feel the need to get a certain something across, but we don't have anything written to achieve what I'm after. So I come up with something that does. As for belonging, I'm not sure where we fit in to things. I do this because I am compelled to. That's my landscape.

What was the best moment for you musically this year?
Making the album was a blast and this year I think we played some of our best shows ever. Our Russian dates, in particular Moscow and St Petersburg, were out of this world. I've experienced some exhilarating moments over the years, but those were something else. I never dreamt, when we started out, that we'd ever get the chance to take it over there. And to get such a strong reaction was mind blowing. It felt revolutionary. They completely got it.

You are such a timeless artist. The Telescopes' entire catalogue still sounds fresh, and the new music you continue to release is as progressive as ever. What keeps you inspired?
Everything I'm exposed to inspires me in some way or another. It shadows me. I've tried running away from it but it just catches up with me.

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