Exploding Head Syndrome
published: 22 /
Discordant but often riveting and surprising eleventh album from experimental noise rock act the Telecopes
“Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS)” the press release informs me, “is the name given by John M. S. Pearce in 1989 to a phenomena described by Robert Armstrong-Jones in 1920 as 'snapping of the brain'. It is a condition in which a person experiences unreal noises.”
The eleventh album from the Telescopes promises “eight new songs and incantations that form a series of sonic convulsions stretching the parameters of intuitive composition to the point of auditory illusion.” The band has a revolving line-up centred around Stephen Lawrie, and the fact that the entire album apart from 'Until the End' was created by Lawrie alone, “immersed in solitude” comes as no surprise once I start listening to it.
'All the Way Around (Tout Est Dans Le Moment)' buzzes into life, and I struggled to make out the fuzzy lyrics admist the white noise. It does mimic the sound of tinnitus quite well, for me at least. And tinnitus is, after all, an auditory illusion so arguably the tracks fully deliver on the promise as presented. I have a white noise generator I often wear to try and neutralise the radio I can always just hear playing somewhere. This is the same experience. There's a lot of static but somewhere someone is singing and if I could just make out the words I'd know the song. Experiencing the same thing whilst actually listening to music was disconcerting I'll admit, and when the second track 'Everything Turns Into You' started in a very similar way my heart sunk a little. Was this going to be eight tracks of sounds I normally do my best to escape?
Pretty much yes. The pitch of the humming changes from time to time but the white noise buzz never seems to stop. Still, when I stopped fighting to hear the lyrics (another technique my audiologist taught me. It helps me focus less on the sounds only I can hear) the overall sound started to relax me. I did feel very much as if I was indeed immersed in Lawrie's head. As the sounds progressed it became easier to surrender to the sense, and in doing so the soundscape began to open up and feel less claustrophobic.
I chose this album mostly because of the name. I have actually experienced my head exploding and have since discovered it has a predisposition to try and go for a repeat performance. I thought perhaps a record with this title might capture something of the power and pain the literal or metaphorical explosion brings with it. And, let's be honest, I wouldn't actively seek out a record that makes me think of tinnitus. That being said, I did enjoy this one in a weird sort of way. It's certainly a very different listening experience and I find myself pondering whether to play it when I go to bed to see if it'll help lull me off to sleep. I'll have to get back to you on that one.
All The Way Around (Tout Est Dans Le Moment)
Everything Turns Into You
You Were Never Here
Until The End
Don't Place Your Happiness In The Hands Of Another
I Know You've Got Something Inside (Driving You Crazy)
Nothing Was Held
Why Are We Doing This To Each Other