With a striking trio of singles/EPs having paved its way to release, there was real intrigue and anticipation for the debut album from Irish electronic project TELEFÍS. Those releases suggested it would be one wholly individual attention holding adventure yet could it truly live up to their high suggestions. Well fresh from its unveiling, a hAon has not only proven their hints more than true but gone beyond to emerge one of the most fascinating encounters in sound, word and adventure that you are likely to welcome and keenly embrace any time soon.
In some ways that success and the majestic stature of its invention is not completely a major surprise as Telefís is borne of the creative collaboration between composer/mixer/producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee (U2, R.E.M., Modest Mouse, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Crystal Castles, Editors) and singer-lyricist-composer Cathal Coughlan (Microdisney, Fatima Mansions and numerous acclaimed solo outings). Between them they have been part of some iconic adventures over the years with the latter a lustful favourite here due to Fatima Mansions. Telefís is a project borne of Covid lockdown and a timely re-introduction for the two artists by a mutual friend. 2020 saw them planning, exchanging ideas and musical files for “a satirical, mischievous examination of Irish history and the pop culture of their lifetimes”, something the pair have since labelled as the host of “corrosive nostalgia”.
As mentioned, what has emerged through their union of imagination and craft is the richest fascination these ears and appetite soon found themselves greedily devouring. Every listen has expanded the rich adventure brought in sound and the imagination stoking lyrical prowess of Coughlan. Both he and Lee conjure realms of suggestion and mystery which bear greater fruit with each subsequent venture into the album’s wonderfully peculiar landscape, a world one may not recognise maybe even understand at times but feel part of from start to finish.
It is also a release which the tagging of electronic barely satisfies. From one moment to another it can be a beast of electro rock or industrial inclined trespass, infection unleashing pop and electro-funk contagion, to intimate revelation and Avant-experimentation but relentlessly the source of enthralling and addictive enterprise.
Announced by the television bearing fanfare of Seo É Glór Na Teilifíse, the album immediately set out its fascination and enslavement with Mister Imperator, one of those early singles which had the fires of anticipation burning bright. The track is a gentle but lively stroll of temptation, a venture clad in nostalgia fuelled rumination amidst certain electronic bubbling. Coughlan’s ever familiar baritone etched tones swiftly begin their weaving of words and thoughts, his lyrical prowess as ever and across the record a story book of imagination and suggestion. Without being forceful, the song is virulently invasive as its successor We Need soon revealed itself to also be
That trio of tracks which preceded the album’s unveiling also open up the release, the lead of those three singles an eager indeed rapacious electro funk shaped incitement which flirts and almost taunts inescapable subservience with its Happy Mondays meets Talking Heads meets Thompson Twins like contagion. In saying that, there will be no surprise when we say, the track is still wholly unique in Telefís individuality and adventure; traits as bold within Falun Gong Dancer and its haunting beauty. With a rumbling electronic hum in its belly, the song is the slim but potent union of the thought evoking tones of Coughlan and Lee’s equally expressive keys but a proposition which defies that simplicity with its resonance of heart felt intimacy and ghostly atmospheric reflection.
Keenly familiar with those tracks before the release of a hAon, the real adventure in a way started hereon in as new proposals and creative quests are revealed and as The Symphonies Of Danny La Rue rises up around ears similarly new captivation is exposed. The song slowly but firmly gets to its creative feet finding a funk swung stride to relish at the same time whilst springing its own particular strain of imagination and infectiousness. Melodically clamorous at times and elegantly flirtatious in other moments the song quickly got under the skin just as Coughlan’s smile inviting and thought evoking tale.
New single, Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics similarly had its hooks in in quick time, the addiction stoking track a punchy verging on pugilistic stomp of electro rock incitement greedily devoured while after, the cathedral televisual clang of The Imperial Angelus, the seedily absorbing Sex Bunting took us on a funk styled crawl of suggestiveness and atypical mischievousness which inescapably captured body and imagination.
Continuing to reveal the diverse invention and gripping incitement of sound, Ballytransnational marches through ears with electronic inducement and vocal mastery with There Goes Waterface entangling the same in its own eclectic web of musical strands and imagination textured vines for an ambience soaked electronic musing. Both songs had attention glued and appetite re-fired but still found themselves slightly eclipsed in the passions by the subsequent pair of Picadors and Stampede. The first is another seduction of voice and atmosphere casting sound, a hazy serenade bringing mystique and romance to personal survey but one with a sense of volatility the more it exposes itself.
Though choosing a favourite track escaped us, the second of the two persistently rears its head with its electro punk turbulence and voracious funk and electro rock tempestuousness across a pop bound heart. The song just hit the spot with by the listen increasing greed and fertility just as indeed the album itself.
With Stop The Lights providing a channel hopping close and epilogue to its core theme, a hAon left just the one urge and need, to go again and yes again. Indeed it has derailed many plans to explore new encounters for future sharing with you all, tempting sole focus its way and that should tell you all you need to know why you should consider joining Telefís for what is for us one of the year’ s most important and sublimely compelling pleasures.
a hAon is out now via Dimple Discs; available digitally, on CD and Vinyl @ https://telefis.bandcamp.com/album/a-haon
Pete RingMaster 07/04/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review