Checkout this great article about TELESMA written by Brianne Leith for the Annapolis Sound.
‘A Decibel Disparate’: Synesthesia’s Entrancing Sound – Telesma
A Decibel Disparate – Exposing the community to local artists: musicians, writers, designers, performers, thinkers, who are doing things outside of the “Annapolitan box.” You will find no sailboats or Blue Angels here. This is a place for raw and unique talent. Let us look at our city with a “view askew.” Diversity is life.
By Brianne Leith
Play with your senses. Freedom. A deep human connection. I walk into the outside to begin an odyssey of beautiful sensory overload. I walked outside and met Telesma.
I shook hands with each member (excluding Joanne Juskus and Rob Houck who could not attend) and felt an unusual comfortability, an imaginary history, that bonded us all instantly. A universal human connection. Pure. Unadulterated. It seeped from each one of the band members. Unifying, passionate and a feeling of a safe unfettered freedom, what their whole beings projected, is the purpose and meaning behind their music.
Telesma means “the unseen, a sacred vessel consecrated with energy for a purpose.” Their music is the communication of the unseen. “We create a doorway that opens up to the Shamanistic world.” Bryan Jones “Jonesy” leans forward on my couch to punctuate his statement and smiles sweetly. “Our music is spiritual, but not forced on anybody…people take what they need from it.”
Listening to their CD O(h)M, I have been transported to a different world. A world of an unfathomable beauty. A world of complete harmony. In these moments of listening I have a sense that everything is alright. It is a group of six musical masters playing their hearts, and hauntingly inspiring music is formed. An almost tribal resonance forms from an intricate melding of ancient and modern instruments, sounds and mentalities. Guitar, didgeridoo, bass, drums, bamboo mouth harp, keyboard, soothing vocals, and more blend into a sound that you can see, hear, smell and taste because they are vividly intense. Penumbra is my favorite song of Telesma’s. No better word could describe this ingenious collaboration of tones. One of their heavier songs, the drums, guitar and bass are the suppliers of the melody. After a slight intermission in the song, the upright bass reverberates out a classically frightening tune, leaving me in love with this band that is so multifaceted and unrestrained.
Playing without the chains of convention, without over thinking, playing genuinely and sincerely from the heart, they are mislabeled continuously. A hippy band, rock, new age, and so forth, they are called, but the genres never encompass their whole being. “People can’t label our music…and that is awesome and amazing.” Jason Sage has an air of mystery to him, a silent contemplating essence that makes me wonder what goes on his mind, through the interludes between his smiles. I look down at my notes. I have scribbled, “It is not anything.” Through my lack of finishing my thought, I have stumbled on Telesma’s truth.
They are not anything; they are nothing, and they are everything all at once.
They are everything including an interactive show with all of the senses involved. “It is an idea, an experience, a happening, something you can be a part of. It is immersive.” Incense burns, belly dancers dance, colors flash and you can have your whole body painted by a professional body painter, all while Telesma plays music that can change you. There is something for everyone.
“Music is a sacred thing. It is the closest thing to religion for a lot of us. It is the highest thing we can do.” Telesma’s shows are invitations to space where we can all be free. Free from judgment and to witness and participate in this kind of worship. It is contagious. Subcultures of all kinds flock to Telesma shows with the appeal that they are doing something different. “If people want to come and just spin in a circle, then awesome, spin all you want.” This is the mind frame that Telesma seemed to have grown from.
Telesma came to being in 2002, with Ian and Jason. They were doing small shows with just the two of them. The other members, loving their sound and being moved in the same way as Ian and Jason, joined one by one. “Everyone is a principle member,” Ian explains to me with a mutual respect and admiration for his fellow performers. “It is a build it and they will come idea of a band.” And the ones that did come together were perfect. “It is disparate elements, but came about naturally. We satisfy ourselves with our sound and it will satisfy others also.” Chris Mandra leans back in his chair, and the light above illuminates his learned words. Each person in Telesma unites together in a perfect combination of these disparate elements.
Joanne Juskus robed in a sari sings a haunting melody. She is a siren, a Greek nymph that lures people in with her entrancing voice.
Ian Hesford is covered in body paint, in a mixture of an aboriginal and surreal appearance. He plays the didgeridoo, bamboo mouth harp, percussion and throat sings. His body is in constant motion. The connection of his head and neck is precarious, as his head moves violently and seemingly involuntarily to the beat.
Jason Sage sings while manipulating the keys on the keyboard. His hand lifts in the air in a state of musical meditation. Percussion, sampling and programming, Jason handles it all in reverence.
Chris Mandra’s eyes are closed as he caresses his guitar. No other word besides caress could be used to depict the obvious love he has for the music he deftly fingers.
Bryan Jones is a bass player that goes beyond the idea of a bass player. Both the electric and standing bass have never been played this way. A new name has to be created to explain his splendor.
Brandon Wildman is the “adjunct drummer,” filling in for the show this Friday. “I have been a fan of Telesma since I first saw them. The atmosphere is great. They are all passionate musicians that play with their hearts.” Brandon, like I stated in an article about his band Contra, is phenomenal. Dynamic and animated, it is always a pleasure to witness his agility.
This is a spectacle that needs to be experienced. Telesma is playing at The Whiskey on Friday April 15th at 10pm, celebrating the CD Release of Dar Stellbotta with Chris Colvin. This is something that should not be missed. Beauty personified through all of the senses. Beauty incarnate.
As I sit cross-legged on the floor looking at the five men, my apartment has been filled with color. The night has been filled with laughter and open illuminated minds. An altered state of reality, visions of tasting neon colors, and mystifying tones permeate my mind.
Telesma is beauty heard through the taste and smell of sound.