Song review: Telescapes
Band: Full Code
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Release: 20th June, 2014
Genre: Progressive Rock
Reviewer: Erised (follow/abuse me on twitter @Giaccattack)
You know those bands that are so underground and artsy that they have really obscure song titles filled with references no one gets and symbols that are impossible to search and therefore damn near impossible to find when you are trying to google them? The bands that seem to actually WANT to alienate their listeners to a certain extent in order to bolster their avant-garde cred? Those musos that write meandering, 10 minute long epics that usually get listened to for 2 minutes before skipping to that shorter song that you kind of like as well? Well, I’ve got a fucking real live one here! I know, I know, contain your excitement, dear readers, and I will lead you on an equally meandering (but hopefully not as long) journey through Full Code’s gargantuan offering, “Telescapes”. I appreciate that the intro was a little misleading, but trust me, you are going to want to check this out. Let’s do this!
So obviously, first up you will notice that this is quite a long album for only having 8 songs (two of which are interlude tracks…sort of), clocking in at a shade over 50 mins. Three 10 minute songs, one 8 minute song and a pair of 6’s awaits you upon pressing play…and it’s fucking GLORIOUS! Starting off with the individual elements, the vocalist is an endearing almagam of Maynard Keenan (Tool), Ian Kenny (Karnivool, Birds of Tokyo) and maybe a touch of Chino Moreno (Deftones) for good measure. He utilises nuances and homages to the aforementioned vocalists to form a uniquely blended vocal styling that is very pleasant to the ear, quivering vibrato and all. He also allies his rich vocal tone to a very flexible dynamic quality and stellar range, even showcasing a visceral scream towards the back end of Obsidian. Add to this already impressive package a keen ear for a tight vocal melody and you have yourself a Progressive vocalist par excellence.
The instrumentation is very distinct for a few reasons. The main reason is the very noticeable addition of an bassey oscillating synth, not unlike what you would hear in dubstep actually. There is guitars in parts, and when there is they are wonderfully well written and performed. This guy can really play, probably best exemplified in the solo section of Obsidian (about 7 minutes in) where he peels off some delightfully tasteful blues licks over a tasty understated bass groove. There are plenty of other sections that really showcase his ability, in particular demonstrating a real flair for grandiose clean sections such as the intro to Obsidian. The other instrumentation is delivered largely through an array of synth sounds and obviously the bass guitar. The bass player tends to sit in the pocket for the majority of the time, occasionally breaking away from pinning the groove to dash a little additional colour upon the canvas of Telescapes. The synths themselves are largely for effect, imbuing the whole album a real labrynthian ambience, giving you the sense that as you progress through Telescapes, you are in actuality traversing a myriad of twists and turns in an immense underground stone jungle.
I’ve left what is easily the most impressive individual element for last…because Jesus H. Fucking Christ is the drummer ever amazing! I’m not at all joking when I say the first entire listen through of this album was spent listening to the drums and the drums only. You know when you walk into a supermarket and there’s this bangin’ hot chick and then all of a sudden everyone around her just fades into the ether and you start fantasising about the dirty, wonderful, disgusting, borderline illegal things you could do to her given the chance? Yeahhhhh, that was me with old mate sticksman, and if I actually do find out where he lives there’s a VERY real chance that I’ll break into his house and he’ll come home to discover me naked on his rose-petal adorned bed with a nice bottle of Chianti and a chloroform soaked rag. I could pretty much write an entire review JUST for the exceptional array of jazz-inspired techniques and beats that he displays over the course of this album, but I feel as though it is suffice to say that they are absolutely perfect in every conceivable way. To change but a single stroke would be doing a great injustice akin to me never getting to caress said drummer’s glorious beard (I’m assuming here…these fuckers always have beards) while he whispers the drum tablature for Multiverse into my ear. * Sighs *…a man can dream though…a man can dream.
Now that we’ve gotten the instrumentation out of the way, let’s discuss whether this album delivers on it’s intentions and extrapolating that, whether it is successful as a result. I mentioned earlier that I had a sneaking suspicion that these guys have engineered this offering to confound and delight in equal measure with the intent to create a piece of art that alienates just as much as it engrosses the listener. The beauty of the Progressive genre at large is that a lot of the point is to create vast soundscapes that are not easily accessible, forcing the listener to concentrate much more. This has dual consequential outcomes. First, it requires you to digest it over a much longer time period than your standard 4-chord 3-minute song. Secondly, when you eventually do “get” it, it makes for a much more rewarding experience as a result. This is very true of Telescapes. There are fleeting moments of accessibility which then give way to much more convoluted fare, which in turn puts you into an endless cycle of harvest and introspection, culminating in the final “A-ha!” moment that comes with the final undulating warbles of Multiverse. It’s a truly engrossing journey that I would recommend to any fan of the Progressive spectrum.
So to sum up, Telescapes delivers on all counts. It has technicality, it has memorability, it has innovation and it damn sure has quality. What’s more, it sounds just amazing. The production is jaw-droppingly clear, which makes listening just that little more enjoyable again. I would definitely put this amongst the very best entries we’ve ever had grace the hallowed (…maybe not that hallowed) halls of IPHYB and if you don’t check this out, you are most certainly missing out on an upcoming band that should be much, much bigger than they are.
Lyrics: from what I could gather, they were vague and well written. Perfect for this style/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 9.5/10
Enjoyment Factor: 10/10
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