ALWAYS grinning devilishly from the corner of the room, observing the way music was unfolding with a knowing gaze, an askance understanding, Cathal Coughlan, the intelligence behind Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions, has always been a joyous thorn in the side of alternative music.
He’s been away a decade – how did that happen? The last full-length postcard he wrote was Rancho Tetrahedron, in tandem with The Grand Necropolitan Quartet, and that was in 2010. Too long for a commentator of such power.
But he’s back, that aforementioned quartet still riding out alongside; his new album, Song Of Co-Aklan, is out on March 26th via his new home, Dimple Discs.
We looked at the abum’s title track right at the very beginning of the year, and of course he still has that way with a gliding, chiming guitar melody, cut through with lyricism to light up the old cranium: the chorus declaring “Raise your hands if you don’t know what this means”. Fellow acerbic observer Luke Haines, of The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, featured on that one.
This Friday he’s releasing another download-only single, “Owl In The Parlour”, a darker, gnarlier affair; you can watch the video below.
For this one he’s got the UK, newly erupted in flag-shagging and monocular visions of Churchill and Spitfires, in his sights: a target worthy. Time will erase us, he reminds us.
Cathal says: “Who among us has not secretly longed to keep birds of prey as domestic pets, which can then double as objects of communal fascination on the streets of our towns?
“Okay, don’t answer that, but neither should one sneer at the practice, certainly not whilst exhibiting the generic smugness so justly identified with the ‘liberal elite’.
“This song is, in part, a survey of the options in personal couture, animal husbandry and ‘inexpensive’ domestic staffing which are now available to the spry middle-aged man in this era of global communication.
“In this gilded age, we are simultaneously interlinked and mutually repelled as never before, whether we live in remote settlements in war-torn parts of the world, or in the mosaic of postage-stamp-sized semi-detached fortresses and gargantuan fulfilment hubs that is the English Hinterland in 2021.”
He’s angry, yup; and rightly so.
The video comes courtesy The Wolfhounds’ Andy Golding, who animates “a psychotropic journey through the world of the provincial raptor-captor, by way of Gloucester and Addis Ababa, through a network of luxurious man-caves belonging to demagogues and cryptocurrency enthusiasts.” And I tells ya, there’s another band wholly deserving of your dystopian ears.
Cathal Coughlan’s “Owl In The Parlour” will be released as a download-only single this Friday, March 5th; Song of Co-Aklan will be available digitally and on CD and vinyl come the 26th, but you can pre-order yours now over at Bandcamp.