Thursday 22 May 2014

Teleman at Islington Assembly Hall - 20 May 2014

Teleman (doing their Man Machine thing)

This is my first time in Islington Assembly Hall. I’m impressed –the décor is like a 1/10 scale Brixton Academy and the Gents toilets have a complicated and abstruse arrangement that keeps you on your mettle and provides amusement for hours.

We start off with Gentlemen, a band that I recall supportingThe Virgins last year.

They are still utterly enthral to the fey English folk/psychedelica of the late 60’s and early 70’s. They are so faithful to the source of their inspiration that there is a strong impression that they spend as much time getting their hair and costumes right as they do rehearsing their music.

They are jolly enough but are a band who teeter on pastiche rather than homage.

The stage goes dark in readiness for the appearance of Teleman. There is a desultory puff of dry ice as the band take their places.

Initially a three piece, they have now been joined by a live drummer. It is abundantly clear that these songs were written with a drum machine or click track, so he doesn’t have much to do other than maintain a single metronomic beat.

The first thing that strikes you about Teleman is main singer Thomas Sanders’ voice. It is a pristine pure thing that pipes at a register only just lower and stronger than that of a choirboy. It’s an acquired sound that seems eerily mechanical.

There is something of the robotic about the whole band. They barely move and there is absolutely no clutter to any of the songs.

The other band members do their bit. The tunes are primarily carried by Jonny Sanders’ keyboard swirls and harmonies with his brother and Pete Cattermoul is as stiffly funky as a fax machine on bass.

Teleman pitch somewhere between folk music and the pastoral English electric of OMD.

The band are plugging their first album and this is both a blessing and a limitation. Their good songs ‘Cristina’, ‘Steam Train Girl’ and the best early Wire tune that never was ‘Not in Control’ are superb, but there is a certain amount of filler, tunes that you feel will be discarded as their repertoire expands.

Teleman provoke a very strong negative reaction in one of my group, who hates them so much that after twenty minutes he can no longer bear to be in the same room. The rest of us enjoy the band very much, liking their still simplicity.

It’s been a very decent night. We leave, noting the smattering of celebrity musical chums who have come to see the band. They were not disappointed, and nor were we.

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