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Cathal Coughlan

Song of Co-Aklan (Dimple Records)

By • Mar 22nd, 2021 • Category: Album review

Do yourself a favour and get this in your ears.  An ingenious collection of songs.  Inventive and intense.  That should be enough, right?  Okay then… 

There’s been a great deal made in the run-up to this albums arrival about it being Cathal Coughlan’s first in a decade.  It’s not like he’s spent that time twiddling his thumbs.  There’s been the absurdist concept album.  Projects around the songs of Brecht and Mahler. Forays into French avant-opera.  And, reforming Microdisney to be awarded the inaugural Irish Trailblazer award.  Which led to a series of joyous live performances. 

I guess that joy was infectious, fellow Disneyman (and head High Lama) Sean O’Hagan lends his voice and guitar to a couple of tracks on here.  Mostly four-to-the-floor stomper The Knockout Artist; which gives us a taste of that Northern Soul album the Microdisney always threatened to make.  One of the many toe-tappers on here.  See also the brilliant title track.  This of course shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Remember, this guy was nearly a pop star, of sorts.   

Lyrically, it’s a bit more obtuse.  There’s near cut-up on a couple of tracks.  Others long surreal (The Lobster’s Dream) narratives.  I’m not sure what any of it is about.  But you don’t need to.  Trust me you get the gist.  For every arch line about despots and cryptocurrency, there’s the Grand Guignol (Passed Out Dog “…I’ve got human bone meal in my hair…”). Some don’t bear thinking about.  The monumental My Child Is Alive is near wrought with emotion.  Nearly raw.   

It speaks volumes to how Coughlan has been delivering the dark and the melodic for so many years to just how deftly he handles the range of style on here delivering this cohesive (despite pandemic restraints) piece of work.  And outstanding one too.  As I said, do yourself a favour 

‘Song of Co-Aklan’ is out on March 26th, on digital or CD / vinyl ((UK/Ireland) / USA).

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