If sadness and joy can go hand in hand there is no finer an example than with a Dó, the second album from TELEFÍS, the creative collaboration of acclaimed producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee (U2, REM, The Killers) and legendary indie singer/lyricist Cathal Coughlan. This past May saw the latter’s sad passing, an icon lost to the music world and no finer a memory and legacy in sound could he have departed upon.
Still enjoying the acclaim and success of their first album, a hAon (meaning one with two the unsurprising translation of its successor’s title), it a fiercely acclaimed triumph released earlier in the year, Lee and Coughlan had their follow-up finished months before the untimely death of THE FATIMA MANSIONS frontman/creator and MICRODISNEY co-founder. Theirs was another project borne of the Covid lockdowns, a re-introduction by a mutual friend leading through exchanging ideas and musical files to the birth of TELEFÍS (Irish for Television and pronounced Tel-eh-feesh) and subsequently the sensational a hAon. It was striking and fascinating exploration of electronically bred invention, the host of “corrosive nostalgia” bridging past experience through a playful dissection of the early days of Irish society in the TV era and aligning them to a world which now lies in a state of flux and disturbance. But we say right now, if this was a proposition which blew you away hold on to your nearest rail for a Dó.
The second album from the duo is simply majestic, embracing all the prowess of its predecessor and escalating its success whilst finding even greater poignancy, invention, imagination and captivation. Coughlan has been one of the music world’s most compelling and provocative lyricists and songwriters over the decades, every release he has been behind with band or solo brewing and increasingly it feels casting greater incitement for the imagination and it has been no different with TELEFÍS; indeed it is hard to think of any previous encounters with his words as poetically visual and emotionally inciting as within the new album. Lee himself has suggested that the album holds “some of his (Coughlan’s) best work” with his death revealing a knowing depth to his lyrics yet “how playful he was when writing stuff like this knowing what lay ahead of him” and it is impossible to argue any of that sentiment. Equally though, Lee himself has conjured and woven some of his own most striking moments of composing and sound, the craft of both coming together for what we now lustfully suggest is the year’s most essential explorations for all.
a Dó also sees a host of guests joining Lee and Coughlan across its body, and adventure, a release starting with the electronically conjured introduction of Seo É Glór Na Teilifíse before launching its full incitement of temptation through Swinging At The Hypnodrome where its eclectic stroll is swiftly joined by the swing of Coughlan’s tones and words, its rhythmic gait just as infectious and compelling. Virulently infectious with an atypical grin of creativity, the track is superb; a PAUL HAIG like essence adding to its addictive art poppiness.
The following Space Is Us embraces the guest guitar prowess of Sean O’Hagan, he the co-founder of MICRODISNEY with Coughlan. The song’s soul nurtured heart is wrapped in Lee’s electronic imagination and rhythmic encouragement; again eighties new wave poppiness drawn from for its keen catchiness before making way for Stock Photo Guy which ventures through dark shadows and intimation with the help of A CERTAIN RATIO. In no time, imaginations, creator and listener, collided and colluded in its maze of sound and suggestion, squirts of trumpet adding to the noir lit breath of the transfixing encounter.
Hare Coursing In Mayfair aligns predator and prey in its creative breath and social spotlight, its electro rock/indie bred sound another dose of rich catchiness before Airstrip uncages its own inescapable virulence and creative addictiveness. Again there is an instinctive motion to all aspects of the track which went deep to manipulative eager participation whilst feeding the imagination with surprise and dynamic enterprise.
Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) brings his inimitable guitar craft to The Age Of Cling, the song a rapture of crystalline electronics and organic pop incitement within an almost kaleidoscopically turning body, the strings of Davide Rossi adding a classical glamour to its creative flumes, while after the sound test of The Casiotone Angelus, the bubbling dynamics of Strawboy Supernova spring a cosmically shone light on a jungle of dilemma, sonic aberrance and the alien rhythmic shuffle cast by Betsey Lee. It all makes for the prefect embrace for Coughlan’s anomalous weave of words and intimation and for one’s lustful devouring.
Through the emotive balladry and provocative beauty of Feed The Light and the eerie yet psych kissed radiance of We See Showbands, another realm was unveiled and explored by authors and listener respectively, its brief tenure the perfect lead into the theatrical and addiction trespassing antics of The Carthaginians. The track is another pinnacle alongside so many across the release where a Thompson Twins like jangle courts electronically orchestral majesty and the song’s instinctive flirtation of contagion which itself bears a seductive hue reminiscent of The Correspondents.
From one major moment to another as Circling Over Shannon follows, the song drawing on the unique enterprise of Jah Wobble in its rhythmic tribalism as Coughlan again sets webs of words for the imagination to get caught up in and Lee traps for the body to get involved with.
Will Sargeant returns to grace album closing On A Country Road, a track leaving ears with the final words and presence of Coughlan and the heart with the loss and pleasure of the great man, a farewell hugged in the just as emotive and impacting dexterity of Lee.
And that is a Dó, one of the year’s most vital encounters for so many reasons; though the fact it is one sublimely fine and irrepressibly rousing adventure is more than reason enough to go explore.
a Dó is out through Dimple Discs; available digitally and on CD, cassette and vinyl @ http://telefis.bandcamp.com and through http://ffm.to/telefis2
Pete RingMaster 15/11/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review
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