Telestrion, Blazing in the Sky: Making Time for Time

Posted in Reviews on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

telestrion blazing in the sky

A full 170 years after their last release, Atlanta heavy space rockers Telestrion return with a new one worthy of the distance from its predecessor. Okay, so maybe not 170 years, but Telestrion issued the vinyl-only EP, Molecule (review here), in 2012, and that certainly feels like two lifetimes ago. To the four-piece’s credit, they began recording the double-LP Blazing in the Sky way back when, it’s just only now coming to fruition. What sort of temporal loop may have occurred between then and now to cause the delay, I don’t know, but with a brisk 90-minute stretch its two platters, one can hardly accuse them of lacking productivity. Led by guitarist/vocalists Andy Samford and Brian Holcomb, who also handle a variety of other instruments from synth and theremin to sitar and Mellotron and “wind” between them, Blazing in the Sky features bassists Jonathan Lee and Stephen Carrington (the latter also guitar), synthesist/backing vocalist Karl Kendrick, percussionist Billy Reeves and drummer Ric Parnell, best known for his portrayal of Mick Shrimpton in This is Spinal Tap — an incendiary performance if ever there was one.

This assemblage and their purposes vary from track to track throughout the 15-song release, and while the format of a 2LP is necessary for the extended runtime, it also feeds into the concept behind the release, which is comprised of traditionally structured songs on its first 12″ and five mostly-extended jams on its second. As to which end of the offering might be more spaced out, it’s a judgment call, of course, but listening to the 15-minute penultimate cut “Midnight Never Ends,” freakery certainly abounds in a way that makes earlier three-minute hooks like “The Peak” and “Paperclip” seem positively straightforward. And to a degree, they are. The album begins with the more than slightly funky vibe of “Electric Ball” and embarks on a space-rock-via-grunge mission of aesthetic purpose that’s smoothly produced but still natural sounding. If some of the recordings are six years old — Telestrion went back into the studio in 2017 — they hardly show their age, and along with some decided Rush fandom, Telestrion show an affinity for the cosmic things in life that coincides with their still-weighted tonality and classic Sabbathian spirit.

telestrion

That spirit perhaps shows itself most in the vocal cadence of “The Peak,” but it hardly departs on the slower, longer “Manifestations,” which follows, and it comes to a head on the seven-minute “A Storm is Comin'” later on, dosed as well with a good hit of psychedelia also at the forefront for “Oasis” of souls while “Paperslip” and “Nothing Left” speak more to the grunge side of Telestrion‘s sound, “Out in the Hills” seems to directly call to Spirit Caravan and the title-track is left to pull in a variety of elements — percussion among them — in some form of summary of the scope of the release. That’s a challenge in itself, but as side B closer “I Ain’t Got Time for Time” wraps with an upbeat kick following the space-doom conclusion of “A Storm is Comin’,” the vibe has long since been set for such turns. What allows Telestrion to make these turns as they go is an underlying foundation of songwriting. Their material is strong enough to support the stylistic shifts and still come across as catchy as intended and as strong in performance as it is in structure. LP1 is tight to such a degree as to be making a point of it, and accordingly it’s all the more of a surprise when they depart onto the second LP of all-out jamming.

Blazing in the Sky isn’t really just a double-album. It’s two albums. One follows one tradition, the other another. They’re connected via “I Ain’t Got Time for Time,” a reprise of which opens the second platter, but by and large, sides C and D are on their own wavelength as compares to the material before them. Whether it’s the Mellotron-soaked “Kykeon” or the theremin swirl of “What’s Not On” or the bass and drum pulsations beneath them both holding them together, the jams are of marked and distinct personality, and they tell a different story of who Telestrion as a band. To wit, if they had actually released Blazing in the Sky as two separate LPs over the course of however long, one might simply say, “Oh yeah, this is the record where they jam. Fine.” As it is, with the two methods positioned right next to each other, one experiences the scope of Blazing in the Sky different context. There’s no ignoring the band’s vision and tease with which they move from tight-knit pieces to wide-open, go-where-they-will jams.

I don’t know how much of “What’s Not On,” “Kykeon,” “Midnight Never Ends” and closer “The Law of Averages” — which would seem to be titled in homage to Parnell — is improvised versus being plotted out beforehand, but a sense of spontaneity pervades anyhow thanks to the inclusion of various percussive elements, keys, synth, Mellotron, etc., giving a progressive edge to the longer-form works and allowing Telestrion to convey and exploratory sensibility, resulting in an unwavering commitment to reverb and echo and a spaciousness that, as far out as they went, the earlier tracks on Blazing in the Sky could hardly hope to approach. As someone who’s a persistent sucker for heavy jams, the drift that Telestrion bring to “Kykeon” and the proggy sprawl of “Midnight Never Ends” are boons ahead of the heavier, fuzzy freakout in “The Law of Averages,” which ends the record on its most chaotic note. However it was recorded, whenever it was recorded, Blazing in the Sky marks Telestrion as a band that still has plenty to offer not just in content, but in method, and the departure from accomplished songcraft into the jams from whence that songcraft emerges is an admirable one not only for what it says about their process, but for their knowing when a song is finished and needs to be what it is. The life they breathe into these tracks is only a part of their appeal, but it’s a big one, and if it’s another half-decade-plus until they give a follow-up, there’s plenty here to chew on for the interim.

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Telestrion website

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Telestrion Release Double-Album Blazing in the Sky

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

telestrion

Okay, so Telestrion‘s Blazing in the Sky has been out for a minute or two. Sometimes a thing comes to my attention after it’s been a while. It’s not like the record’s a year old, so, you know, stuff it. The span of the thing is more important than time anyway — though while we’re quibbling dates, I’ll note it’s been six years since the Atlanta natives released their last EP, Molecule (review here) — and maybe making up for lost time is part of the reason they’ve gone to a double-LP with Blazing in the Sky, though listening to the four jams that would comprise the second platter of a vinyl release, they don’t really need any justification for being included. They’re there, and awesome. That should be and is enough.

Blazing in the Sky is Telestrion‘s second full-length behind 2007’s self-titled debut, though the band also trace their roots back to the lone 2004 outing from another outfit called Qualone. I still have my CD of that record. Cool stuff. It’s on Telestrion‘s Bandcamp if you get through the new album and are up for digging back. Ah hell, you’ve got time. You know you do.

I don’t know if they’re doing a physical pressing at this time or waiting to get a label involved in such an endeavor, but either way, Blazing in the Sky is certainly lit up. Details follow from the PR wire:

telestrion blazing in the sky

Atlanta Cosmic Rockers Telestrion release “Blazing in the Sky” featuring Spinal Tap/Atomic Rooster Drummer, Ric Parnell

The music of Telestrion is an assault on the senses with their brand of own brand psychedelic acid fuzz rock. Think Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and Hawkwind and you’ll be in the ballpark, however Telestrion have a sound that is uniquely their own. Telestrion’s performances meander back and forth between tightly rehearsed songs and loose free form improvisational jams, depending on the state of the players and the moment.

In April of 2018, Telestrion released their long awaited double album, Blazing in the Sky. The album was produced by Telestrion and Jeff Tomei and features legendary Spinal Tap/Atomic Rooster drummer Ric Parnell. Blazing in the Sky is a 15 song cosmic journey that covers all of the bases from the short and sweet “Nothing Left” to the 15 minute epic “Midnight Never Ends.” Telestrion’s music is definitely food for the mind and is something to not just be heard but to be experienced as well.

Founding member/singer/guitarist/songwriter Andy Samford had this to say about working with the legendary Ric Parnell (aka. Mick Shrimpton in Spinal Tap):

“He was amazing, he would listen to a demo, I’d walk him through the arrangement and then he’d create and perform a perfect part in one or two takes. Genius, really. We’d give him some direction and I’d call out changes but other than that it was pretty spontaneous and in the moment. Sides 3 and 4 are all improv and were made up on the spot with zero discussion.” – Andy Samford

Tracklisting:
1. Electric Ball 03:08
2. The Peak 03:15
3. Manifestations 04:55
4. Oasis Of Souls 05:23
5. Paperclip 03:38
6. Blazing In The Sky 05:15
7. Nothing Left 02:37
8. Out In The Hills 04:39
9. A Storm Is Comin 07:22
10. I Ain’t Got Time For Time 04:03
11. I Ain’t Got Time For Time (Reprise) 03:59
12. What’s Not On 08:02
13. Kykeon 10:22
14. Midnight Never Ends 15:33
15. The Law Of Averages 07:44

Telestrion is:
Andy Samford – Guitar, Vocals, Synth, Piano, M-Tron, Percussion
Brian Holcomb – Guitar, Vocals, Theremin, Vocoder, Sitar, Maracas, Wind, Arpanoid
Ric Parnell – Drums
Stephen Carrington – Bass, Guitar
Jonathan Lee – Bass
Karl Kendrick – Synth, Backing Vocals
Billy Reeves – Percussion
Allen Beaver – Allen Holcomb’s Dragster

https://www.facebook.com/TELESTRION
https://telestrion1.bandcamp.com/
http://telestrion.net/

Telestrion, Blazing in the Sky (2018)

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Telestrion, Molecule: Sideways Tunnel through Time and Space

Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Atlanta-based outfit Telestrion specialize in a seemingly bygone nuance within psychedelic rock. On their latest, vinyl-only EP, Molecule (self-released through Electric Mind Records), the core duo of guitarist/vocalists Andy Samford and Brian Holcomb – both of whom also handle synth and a variety of other effects and swirls – are joined by the since-ejected rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Jonathan Lee and drummer Dwayne Jones for just under 33 minutes of classic-style stoner psychedelia. The release gets progressively more tripped out, but at the heart of Telestrion’s presence is a sense of simply structured songwriting that remains accessible no matter what is subsequently layered over it. On a basic level, the songs are immediately familiar, but by sticking to a more ‘90s style of neo-psych (I do a double-take every time I see an act reference Kula Shaker as an influence), the band is actually going against the modern trend within the genre, which is typified by elements of Americana and noisy indulgences more than dreamy Beatles melodies and lines like, “Neon spaceships flying across my mind,” from the opening title-track of Molecule, the album art of which features the chemical construction of mescaline. Situation depending, I’m not sure I’d state a preference one way or another, but Telestrion more certainly align themselves to the kind of psych proffered by VALIS than fellow Atlantans Zoroaster, at times even reminding of those times when The Atomic Bitchwax slows down their riffy assault to ride out a killer groove. Their roots, however, lead them down a different path toward the pastoral, and Molecule makes its way gradually toward the sonically ethereal, the second half of the release being dedicated to farther and farther ranging jams.

Beginning that progression, then, “Molecule” makes an appropriate owner for the EP that shares its name. It’s probably the most straightforward of Telestrion’s originals here, and unquestionably the best chorus. Centered around a memorable, driving riff, it remains psychedelic and laid back despite being carried across with considerable energy, in no small part thanks to a compressed-sounding production and subdued melodic vocals. Neither Samford nor Holcomb is showy on guitar, but both come together to serve the song well, and as it’s been five years since they released their self-titled debut full-length – the band came together in 2007 in the wake of disbanding the guitarists’ prior unit, Qualone – that’s probably a good way to go. “Molecule” ends with an engaging lead nonetheless, and that sets up the extra percussion of the three-minute instrumental “Tunnel in the Sky” well. One might consider the song a jump in a less grounded direction, but even as the guitars veer into effects noise and swirling leads, Lee and Jones (the latter also a veteran of Qualone) hold down a solid rhythmic foundation. The song also finds companion brevity-wise in the 2:11 “Slightly Sideways,” which opens side B of the vinyl, so there’s some structure to be found on an album level there as well. Before flipping the platter, however, Telestrion break out a cover of Black Sabbath’s A National Acrobat. They slow it slightly, but the Tony Iommi riff is unmistakable, and given its due by Holcomb and Samford, who play the starts and stops well off each other and effectively capture the Ozzy “You’ve gotta believe me/I want you to listen!” yell, echoing out into the musical space their atmosphere has created. It’s not a bold cover, but it’s a sincere cover, and that honesty goes a longer way than it might had Telestrion tried to out-obscure their audience in their selection. As the pace picks up for the lead section in the last minute and a half, the extent of the band’s sincerity becomes clear, and it feeds into the overarching charm of Molecule. 6:52 well spent.

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