The Telescopes' long-awaited (and aptly titled) Third Wave arrives nine years after their second and last full-length album for Creation (the celebrated U.K. imprint also released three singles). The recordings for a third album failed, due to difficulties within the group's then-current lineup. There were lengthy delays, and finally the group splintered in 1995. Stephen Lawrie and Joanna Doran ("Jo") didn't stop making music together in those nine years. In 1996, he and Doran began collaborating with film composer Nick Hemming on film music, and soon the trio had formed a new group, Unisex. A few years later, Unisex's debut was released by New York-based Double Agent Records. In addition to collaborating with Füxa, Lawrie soon began writing new material that he imagined would work best for the Telescopes instead of Unisex. Even so, Third Wave in some ways picks up where Unisex's 1999 album, Stratosphere, left off. This time out, Lawrie and Doran are the only remaining members of the group's original lineup. Lawrie is clearly the one in charge, with downbeat electronics, soporific sound loops, and hypnotic grooves that loop over each other. The album has a dark intensity that builds as it progresses forward. There are occasional lighter moments, too. "Tesla Death Ray" features sound effects from the Space Invaders video game and is constructed entirely out of toys and gadgets (hand drills/stylophone/toy car) with vocoder vocals and abused electronic instruments. "A Good Place to Hide" is languid spy jazz, with braying brass instruments, similar to the jazzbo ambient textures that Isotope 217 and Tortoise have recorded. Another highlight is "When Nemo Sank the Nautilus," punctuated with a submarine's "ping" sonar sounds. The music is more experimental and electronic than previous recordings, interwoven with frigid space rock elements, then reconfigured and filtered through Teutonic post-rock noises that are aurally pleasing to the ear.
Third Wave Review
by Bryan Thomas