Back in 1989, seminal Burton-On-Trent five-piece The Telescopes released their groundbreaking debut long player Taste to an unsuspecting audience at the time still reeling from the triple whammy of Isn't Anything, Bug and Daydream Nation. Almost a year later, Welsh bootleg label Fierce Records put out a live recording of the band entitled Trade Mark Of Quality (much to The Telescopes' displeasure I hasten to add, due in no small part to their permission not being sought) which captured them at their venomous, incendiary best.
In the meantime the band's then official label, What Goes On, went bankrupt, leaving The Telescopes in limbo. However, the seeds were sown thanks to Taste and the batch of singles either side of its release, with the UK's answer to the noise rock seeping in from the States now firmly established as underground darlings, even if sections of the country's music media weren't convinced at the time.
Having inked a deal with Creation Records and released a self-titled follow-up to Taste that should have heralded their commercial breakthrough, the story of The Telescopes ground to a halt, with band members departing and the project embarking on an eight year hiatus. Returning in 2002 with yet another new sound and a rotating cast of players that saw only songwriting frontman Stephen Lawrie and guitarist Jo Doran remain, long player number three Third Wave was something of a triumph, not least due to its combination of psychedelia, folk and ambient melodrama culminating in the Elvis sampling 'A Good Place To Hide'. Subsequent releases would see Lawrie link up with Vibracathedral Orchestra's Bridget Hayden, the ensuing sounds taking an experimental diversion perhaps akin to Pete Kember's E.A.R. or Randall Nieman's Fuxa projects.
However, with the resurgence in modern bands citing The Telescopes as a major influence for their existence, not to mention time proving a great healer in terms of Taste being regarded as one of the lost classics of its era, it was perhaps inevitable that a revisit of the songs that established the band's name would ensue sooner or later.
The past being the past and all that, Stephen Lawrie's next move was to find a suitable cast of musicians to represent his songs in a live arena. Enter London's One Unique Signal, an outfit making considerable waves of their own on the capital's psychedelia and noise scenes, and before you could say, err, "play Taste in its entirety!", that's pretty much what was happening before our eyes and ears, as documented here.
Live. Aftertaste then is a recording of one such evening in Oxford's Cellar venue from February of last year, and from start to finish encapsulates the sheer intensity and dynamics of the band's unashamedly brutal performance. Capturing six songs in just over half an hour, the release of Live. Aftertaste (on heavy duty vinyl - what else?) certainly justifies Lawrie's decision to retread old ground. The ferocious stomp of 'There Is No Floor' gives way to the visceral thud of 'Sadness Pale' before the swamp rock duo of 'Threadbare' and 'Violence' render the career of many of The Telescopes' contemporaries pointless. Side two takes the octave level down a notch courtesy of 'Please Before You Go' before the looped explosion of 'Suicide' brings proceedings to a close, almost a quarter of an hour after the song's commencement. Vocally in fine fettle throughout, Lawrie emphasising every vowel and syllable as though it were his last, ably abetted by the five strong band caressing every shard of noise emanating from the speakers, Live. Aftertaste is a fitting statement highlighting the continued importance of Taste some 22 years after its initial release.
What's more, with an album's worth of new material on the way shortly, not to mention an impending slot at the Portishead curated I'll Be Your Mirror event in late July, The Telescopes' relevance in 2011 is all but assured.
8Dom Gourlay's Score