The Telescopes

TrackAlbum / EP
Strange WavesStrange Waves 12" EP
Silent WaterAs Approved By The Committee
High On Fire# Untitled Second
Don't Bring Me RoundHidden Fields
Everything Turns Into YouExploding Head Syndrome
Oil Seed RapeTaste
Where It Comes From Where It GoesHungry Audio Tapes
Something In My BrainAs Light Return
The Perfect NeedleTaste

The Telescopes photo 1

The Telescopes (l to r): Dominic Dillon (drums), Jo Doran (vocals/guitar), David Fitzgerald (lead guitar), Robert Brookes (bass), Stephen Lawrie (vocals/guitar)



Telescopes playlist



Contributor: Ann Sequinworld

The Telescopes were formed in Burton-on-Trent in 1987. Their debut release was a split flexi disc with Loop on the Cheree label in 1988. They’ve been signed to a variety of labels, including Creation Records and Tapete, during the past 33 years and have had commercial as well as critical success with their 11 studio albums.

The Telescopes have experienced numerous line-up changes since their inception, having cycled through dozens of members and gone dormant periodically. They have evolved into, essentially, a solo project led by Stephen Lawrie.

Later albums not only involved contributions from revolving personnel, but also enlisted unusual instrumentation and experimental arrangements, all of which undoubtedly contributed to the discovery of new sonic horizons. It is possible to see The Telescopes on two consecutive evenings and witness a different band each time.

I hope you enjoy The Telescopes Top Ten and go on to explore their back catalogue


Strange Waves12″ EP (2019)
“Beautiful ear-shredding drone noise, few groups manage to conflate sensory overload with such a keen sense of melody.”

Silent WaterAs Approved By The Committee (2003)
“The guitars squeal and screech but it is a warm noise; reassuring, not harsh.”

High On FireThe Telescopes (1992) / # Untitled Second (2004)
“A deep, bass-rich treatment that makes every last electronic flourish and fuzzed-out blast go down easy. It’s humorous, unique, laid-back, beautiful and chaotic by equal measures and, for music that was so obviously a serious labour to put together, it all sounds amazingly fluid and natural.”

Don’t Bring Me RoundHidden Fields (2015)
“the beauty, perhaps, of shutting yourself away in seclusion and using the studio as a sounding board is some of the effects that can be produced if you have nobody else demanding a particular sense of progress”

ViolenceTaste (1989)
“The sheer noise that The Telescopes exude doesn’t symbolise power, as it might when other bands are concerned. Instead, their visceral energy suggests a frail vulnerability; powerlessness in the face of elemental forces beyond one’s control.”

Everything Turns Into YouExploding Head Syndrome (2019)
“Feedback is everywhere, sometimes as a means of attack or for its textural components, sculpting order out of disarray.”

Oil Seed RapeTaste (1989)
“Their music is reflective and pulsates like a quasar on the fringes of space. It is volatile, dangerous and threatening, but splendid too, when viewed at a safe distance.”

Where It Comes From Where It GoesHungry Audio Tapes (2006)
“Buried wisps of melody in sheets of guitar feedback; songs that, given time and a certain patient cast of mind, largely reveal themselves to the listener like a distant object’s transposition out of fog.”

Something In My BrainAs Light Return (2017)
“The Telescopes do not make it their mission to turn the beautiful into the banal. Instead, they occupy the no-man’s-land that divides beauty and ugliness”

The Perfect NeedleTaste (1989)
“The music sucks you in and holds you in a kind of psychedelic stasis as its sonic vibrations and fizzing frequencies invade your inner psyche.”


In an interview with It’s Psychedelic Baby magazine last November, when asked about the importance of improvisation Stephen Lawrie responded: “Quite often arrangements come to me by the time I have the basic song written, but sometimes they don’t and that’s where improvisation comes in; trial and error. Sometimes I have a piece that I want to throw open to others, with just loose parameters of where it might go … At live shows I like to leave a lot of room for spontaneity because every place has a different vibe and it’s more about an interaction between the music and the environment than imposing any pre conceived presentation on a room where it may not necessarily work. It makes more sense to me to try and keep things in flux rather than keep to a template.”
Then, when asked how it felt to still be going strong in performing and releasing new albums: “I’m not sure from one day to the next whether The Telescopes are going strong or not, it’s often skin of the teeth but I’m thankful for every chance I get to create something new. I have a lot of ideas I want to realise …”


The Telescopes recorded two John Peel sessions and gained a Festive Fifty entry in 1989.The band’s ‘Third Wave’ LP excited Peel, who said he was both “amazed and glad they were still practising their mysterious art”: consequently, he championed it and listed it in September 2002 Peel’s Record Box (source:


The Telescopes were among the most innovative and challenging yet successful artists in Creation Records’ ‘middle period’ – this 4-track CD single was released in July 1991


The Telescopes photo 2

The Telescopes 2019 (l to r): JB Zurbach (guitar), David Griffin (bass), John Lynch (drums), Stephen Lawrie (vocals/guitar) – photo courtesy of @VogonLaundromat contributor to I Heart Noise


“Their latest album, the eleventh, Exploding Head Syndrome … although the basic ingredients of The Telescopes’ music haven’t really changed, it is Stephen’s willingness to experiment with texture and tone yet stick with the basic craft of writing a good song that makes the lonely furrow he is ploughing one that is well worth following. After thirty years or so, there is still a sense of unfinished business and for the sake of the listener, let us hope that continues.” (Mr Olivetti, Freq, March 2019)


David Fitzgerald (1966-2020)


The Telescopes facebook

The Telescopes – Taste (30th Anniversary Edition)

The Telescopes bandcamp

The Telescopes – 1990 TV interview

The Telescopes at Discogs

Catching Up With The Telescopes, Underrated Influencers Of Shoegaze

The Telescopes at the Hot Box, Boom, Leeds
– the last time our contributor saw them live, December 2019 (full gig)

The Telescopes biography (AllMusic)

Ann loves the psychedelic music of the 80s/90s. In between gigs, she runs her own business, Sequin World and Bead Monster. You can follow her on twitter @ann_sequinworld and other social media sites.

These are Ann’s other posts on this site Loop, The Heads, Thee Hypnotics, Mudhoney, Wooden Shjips, The Lucid Dream, The BellRays, Moon Duo.

The quotes above are from reviews at the time of each record’s release, paraphrased here and there and attached to a song. This was a cut-up process and the quote may not originally have been about that particular song but … you know what … it doesn’t matter because it works.

TopperPost #885

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