Telefis : A Dó : album reviewTelefis : A Dó

(Dimple Discs)

Download/Streaming available now

Vinyl / CD order here 


The tragic loss of Cathal Coughlan (interviewed here by John Robb) was mourned in many quarters as the influential Irish singer was one of the genuine spirits in the rock n roll circus. This last album is a testament to his ongoing genius and a reminder of his potent brilliance. 

In a musical career that started in Cork in the punk wars and was more of an adventure than a career, Cathal Coughlan had never lost his edge. His post-punk band Microdisney broke through and subsequent solo records and projects signposted a quest to push the parameters as far as possible without ever losing a caustic yet pop edge. Telefis was a thrilling last hurrah on a career full of curveballs and creativity. Formed with US-based Irish producer and musician Jackknife Lee they released the album A hAon and this was their second excursion and a marriage between the producer’s electronic soundscapes and Cathal’s charismatic voice.

The album is a pithy look at the stuffy surroundings of the modern world welded to pulsating electronic dance music or dark introspective soundscapes whilst drawing on what they saw as a ‘corrosive nostalgia’. It was a nod to sonic explorers beyond the guitar/bass/drums shackles like Kraftwerk, hints of Nine Inch Nails, the Human League and even mangled R’n’B pop that bedded the haunting strange poetic ballads, the spectral melodies and dark inner journeys.
As ever Jackknife Lee is on top form with the muscular backdrops aided by a cast list of key guests like Cathal’s longtime friend and Microdisney co-founder and High Llamas main man Sean O’Hagan on the first single Space Is Us,  the quiet genius of Bunnyman Will Sergeant adding a magic to The Age Of Cling or punk-funk pioneers A Certain Ratio dropping by or Jah Wobble bringing his ever distinctive bass earthquake to Circling Over Shannon.

A mix of dark almost industrial stripped-down pieces mingle with a 22nd century future dark pop that underlines that this is not an album that trades in past glories but is hungry for the visionary vistas of the future. Surely the whole point of post-punk was to remain in destination future and yet achingly creative and seeking new textures and sounds to play with?

Of course, this is much easier if you have a voice as rich and textural as Cathal had. It’s the kind of voice that can soar or whisper menacingly and it always comes armed with great lyrics that commentate and tear strips off the car crash of modern life.

Cathal was a big presence – a humble man with a deep intelligence and sensitivity and he never rested on his laurels. Of course, it’s sad that he has left us but at least he was on a creative high that crowns a thrilling journey and is also a measure of just what a restless and inspired soul he was. 

God bless you big man.

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