[sic] Magazine

Audioscope. Festival, Oxford Jericho Tavern, November 8th 2014

Audioscope has managed to elude me previously but the roster of past years (this is its 13th year, so a lot of eluding!) shows they get some great acts, all here to benefit Shelter. We arrive after a leisurely wonder round such delights as the Ashmoleon museum in time for Earthling Society, not entirely surprisingly plying an impressive set of Space Rock. Touchstones like Hawkwind and Man are there but it is excellent on its own terms – tellingly they only play about four tracks but it doesn’t drag and one track, Zodiak, could pass as a druggy Oasis LP track. Next morning we notice they are in the next door guest house, coming back from the cemetery opposite no doubt after paying their respects at the grave of J R R Tolkien (we are on the way to it ourselves, man). If you like this sort of thing (and I do) there are a lot of great bands about (see also – Sendelica).

I’m particularly excited by next up, Wrangler, as they contain one third of Cabaret Voltaire (Stephen Mallinder, not least the vocalist but very much a rhythmic driving force). They also feature Benge and Phil Winter from Tunng so are hardly lacking Underground pedigree. They have played some Cabs before so I’m hopeful Sensoria (one of my all-time greats) will get an outing. It doesn’t but that is the only disappointment as Wrangler are the sort of creative analogue synth band that I delight in. Every bit as exciting as Microphonies era Cabs but very much a band on their own terms they deserve a devoted audience. Listen on-line or better still take my word and buy the album LA Spark now to get the sort of sounds that seemed to be “The Future” in the 80s and sound no less of the future now. And it’s funky as Hell.

10418353_10152614998114842_7213803883158199511_nThe Telescopes

The name from You Are Wolf, Kerry Andrew, seems familiar. As she appears we realise we saw her in a Little Missenden church in her “classical” music incarnation. We were impressed then and took advantage of a lot of Soundcloud downloads but seem to have missed her more “pop” work. Here she’s working with a couple of other people but the songs have similar concerns to when we saw her on her own. Nature and emotion linked in a way Kate Bush’s later works have managed, presented powerfully but not histrionically, she is a strong vocalist without going OTT. The “pay what you want” EP from 2010 she was selling is very much recommended.

The Telescopes are a lesson in the dynamics of noise, conductors of the raw, channelling the power of rock instrumentation in a performance as much primal scream technique as music. It is very exciting, cathartic for both band and audience and must be draining to pull out the bag every night (let alone over their 27 year life span) and probably explains why only vocalist Stephen Lawrie has stayed the distance. Although there is light and shade the technique doesn’t allow for too much subtly but with this visceral a thrill it doesn’t matter. You need to sandblast your musical taste-buds sometimes.

Silver Apples were/are/is legends of electronic music. Without doubt the 1968 eponymous debut album is a foundation stone of electronica in the Rock field, a straight line surely flows from it to Suicide and Crystal Castles. The charming Simeon has a table stacked with well ordered gizmos that require 6 people to carry it on (heavy, man) but there is nothing retro about the set this swinging synthesized septuagenarian brings to (or rather from) the table. Wrangler are in the audience to check out their forbear, and no one is disappointed by the lively track list that takes in solid state classics like Oscillations and A Pox On You to a track shaping up to be on a new album being mixed now.



A bit of a coup with headline Public Service Broadcasting, to cap a year of festival appearances (we’d missed them at two at least) and ahead of a Roundhouse show next year and a new Space Race themed album. If you haven’t heard them their “shtick” is accessible dance rock beats built around themed samples from old film or public information films. At worst it’s an amusing conceit – but often it is genuinely affecting and emotional. For performance the duo dress like fogey lecturers but before the bins and bowtie goes on main man “J Wilgoose Esq.” looks more like the dashing Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter. They are extremely good, tracks like the mighty Spitfire engage musically and manage to be moving in the use of samples, bringing the everyday sacrifice of WW2 up to date without cheap tricks.

Book us in next year, this small but perfect event is far more than a standard fundraiser.



Photography by Giulia Biasibetti with kind permission Audioscope Festival. Pictures may be subject to copyright. [sic] does not own anything. Please visit the website and support Shelter.

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Audioscope Offical Website


Earthling Society


You Are Wolf

The Telescopes

Silver Apples

Public Service Broadcasting