CATHAL COUGHLAN has always been the straight-As kid with the (slightly demonic) pearly white smile and the pocket of stinkbombs in the school hall of indie music; he can’t resist pulling things sideways, to see how they look from somewhere to left of where they might otherwise or properly be. But he does it with such verve and aplomb.
He’s teamed up with fellow Irish musical kingpin Garret “Jacknife” Lee – the man who left punk guitar behind for the delights of big breaks like “Bursting Off The Backbeat” before finding his métier as an in-demand producer for U2, The Killers, Modest Mouse and more; a man who once said that if he doesn’t make noise, he gets very grumpy. A perfect mischievous foil for young Coughlan, then.
Their musical project is entitled Telefís (the Gaelic for television – you pronounce it tele-feesh, Anglophones.
And after we premiered the Maurice and Charles remix of their track “Mister Imperator” in October, a tale stranger, if also truer, than life, they’ve returned with a sparser, sadder, grander essay in “Falun Gong Dancer”. Here’s the video, why dontcha.
The third single to be lifted from the album, it allows Cathal free rein to sing it loud, sing it sad, over a stripped back piano, in which Cathal takes us on a grandstanding tour of the globe, as if in a no expense-spared musical, lone spotlight, stage left, the barest dit-dit of a distance synth keeping time.
This weary globe-spanning torchsong, in which Cathal talks of “USA For Dummies” ends a capella in the stark couplet: “When she gazes on me / Love will conquer all.”
The video comes from director Matt Mahurin, whose showreel includes Peter Gabriel, U2, REM and David Byrne.
Telefís was hatched in lockdown file-trading, when plans were hatched for a satirical examination of Irish history and the pop culture of their lifetimes; a phenomenon they note as ”a corrosive nostalgia”. The result is an album entitled a hAon (Number One), out in the new year.
Telefís’ “Falun Gong Dancer” is out now as a download-only single; the album, a hAon, will be released by Dimple Discs digitally, on CD and on vinyl, both including a double-sided lyrics sheet, on February 11th. Order yours here.