Teleman – Concert Review – Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh – May 29, 2016

Teleman / Lanterns On The Lake

Edinburgh’s eclectic Grassmarket is hosting a mini arts and music festival Hidden Door until July 4.

Nestled away in the bombsite-cum-artspace is a neon installation by Jill M Boualaxai packed with tapes, wires and old computer keyboards.

The installation is a vision of the future circa 1982 – like a discarded set from Doctor Who or Blake’s 7.

Headlining Hidden Door’s live music room on May 29 was London art-rock band Teleman.

Teleman sound like a vision of the future circa 1982 – a band assembled from discarded bits of prog-rock, post-punk, new-wave and electronica with a bit of Britpop glue.

The four-piece are both modern and retro, with the stripped down production and the slightly hackneyed electronic effects which are back vogue thanks to bands like Alt-J.

Dusseldorf, the opening track on their new album Brilliant Sanity, and Strange Combinations reach back through Franz Ferdinand to their new-wave antecedents The Cure and Depeche Mode, while Fall In Time and Christine are pure Alt-J.

Steam Train Girl and Tangerine recall mid-period Blur, around the time of their lo-fi fifth album and 13.

Teleman’s debut album Breakfast was produced by Bernard Butler, and while they aren’t as ostentatious as Bernard’s old band Suede there are hints of the ‘90s indie darlings in there – particularly in Thomas Sanders’ well spoken English dandy intonation.

Sanders is an unlikely looking showman with his neat side parting and and stripy Topman-style shirt but he has some rock moves, even venturing out into the crowd for an extended audience participation version of Drop Out.

While their influences are clear, Teleman do have a few modern classics in the making to add to the alt-rock pantheon, packed away into the mini-encore at the end of the short festival set.

Glory Hallelujah sounds like it’s been around forever, so much so I had to check the iPod during my pre-gig research to make sure it hadn’t skipped to prime-period Arcade Fire.

I’m Not In Control is unnerving and hypnotic with obvious hints of Joy Division, particular the title and vibe which aren’t a million miles away from She’s Lost Control.

Thomas Sanders’ robotic delivery and his brother Johnny’ retro synths drew the crowd in, reaching a crescendo before cutting out just at the point where everyone was about ready to erupt into a mass Ian Curtis style freakout.

I’ve already bought a ticket Teleman’s return to Edinburgh in October, in the 250 capacity L-shaped buzz-kill Electric Circus.
While they’re still playing small (and in Edinburgh, sub-standard) venues a bit of love could upgrade them to the 650 capacity Liquid Room, which is currently two-for-two in Across The Pond’s gig-o-meter after Kula Shaker and The Bluetones redeemed the city’s reputation from the sins of the more cavernous Usher Hall.

I’ll also be paying more attention to Hidden Door’s penultimate Sunday band Lanterns On The Lake, who apparently haven’t visited Edinburgh for several years but are welcome to bring their fine noise back any time.

It takes a lot of talent and guts to resurrect the Les Paul and violin bow routine made famous by Jimmy Page, and subsequently pilloried into prog rock’s Room 101 by Spinal Tap.

But LOTL’s burly bald axeman Paul Gregory pulled it off, ably assisted by Angela Chan’s proper violin work to make the rafters of the dilapidated makeshift concern venue reverberate with powerful soundscapes and perhaps even upstaging top of the bill Teleman.


Skeleton Dance

Fall In Time

Steam Train Girl




Strange Combinations

Brilliant Sanity

Drop Out

Glory Hallelujah

I’m Not In Control