Televise: Strings and Wires

Strings and Wires falls into that category of recordings that appear out of left field and instantly disarm for being so fully realized, prompting one to wonder how one could have been unaware of the composer and his material before. Simon Scott certainly brings a storied CV to the project. The Cambridge-born producer occupied the drum chair in The Charlottes and Slowdive (on the albums Just for a Day and Souvlaki), did session stints with Chapterhouse, Saint Etienne, and Jewel, and toured with bands like Ride, House of Love and Swervedriver. An encounter with original Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett prompted Scott to form Televise in 2003 and the debut, three years later, of Songs to sing in A&E (plans are underway to release mixes of the album's tracks by Isan, Port Royal , Mole Harness, Sebastien Roux, Ulrich Schnauss, and others).

Strings and Wires isn't shoegazing; instead, Scott shapes his material into warm, cloud-like masses at the center of which occasionally recognizable guitar sounds can be heard. Though there is unanimity, each of the album's six songs explores different stylistic terrain. “Koto” loops granular tones into machine-like rhythms before blossoming into rippling patterns. In the melancholic “Resonated,” the cry of electric and acoustic guitar melodies pierce the billowing haze while guitar lines gracefully unfurl like flower petals during the eleven-minute meditation “Fist.” A haunting melody forms the nucleus of “Perfect Sound” and, though a thick blanket of hiss muffles the sound, the guitar's ponderous theme and bell percussion are still able to declare themselves. It's entirely fitting that Mole Harness should be present as a contributor, given the superb caliber of James Brewster's own recordings (All Your Memories Return At Once, A Present From the Future). Brewster's Mole Harness remix of “This is Whatever” morphs stuttering loops into a drone of speaking voices and wavering tones that grows progressively denser over the course of its seven minutes. The album's most beautiful piece may be the opener “Mezzo” where two tonal surges see-saw, punctuated by starbursts of crackle; Scott manipulates his warm sonic fields so deftly here, one could miss the submerged cry that wails so softly within the oscillating mass. Kudos to Scott for bringing a unique voice to the electronic sound-sculpting genre.

June 2007