The Telescopes: Splashdown: The Complete Creation Recordings 1990-92

Nearly men of shoegaze documented.

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The late 80s saw a (sonic) boom in young British bands who’d heard some Velvet Underground and Suicide and reimagined their psychedelic mantras and space-rock as an antidote to prevalent pop sounds.

The Telescopes never achieved the press traction of Spacemen 3, Loop or My Bloody Valentine, splitting in ’92 (they’re now active again). Loud to the point of confrontational in their gigs, they didn’t catch the perfect single to go large, while their albums were doomy and somewhat oppressive.

After early indie inroads they signed to Creation, where across EPs such as Precious Little, Everso and Flying they edged from aggression to faintly dance-worthy. The label wanted hits, but Stephen Lawrie and company were no Pete Watermans, lacking the tunes of Ride or the dumb flukey luck of Primal Scream.

The album #Untitled Second (as that title shows, they weren’t even allowed to call it what they wanted without compromising) was a murky, intense brawl of sound. Today it seems very much of its time, tinnier and scrappier than it felt at the time of release. But its contribution to the growth of shoegaze, or dream pop, was valid.

Gathered here are the album and EP tracks, plus held-over planned B-sides and an unissued Peel session. There’s also a cover of the Velvets’ Candy Says which exhibits all the strengths and weaknesses of The Telescopes in a nutshell. It keenly wants to be darker and more frayed than it is. Yet its heart is resoundingly in the right place.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.