“Song Of Co-Aklan definitively affirms Coughlan’s place amid Ireland’s poetic pantheon” ~MOJO (4 stars)
“Song Of Co-Aklan is a more than welcome return from a puckish master of social observation and surreal manifesto” ~ The Wire
“…shows off a rich, Scott Walker-ish voice that’s aging superbly…a welcome return” ~ Uncut
“The most underrated lyricist in pop today” ~ The Guardian
“[I could] listen to Cathal Coughlan sing the phone book” ~ John Peel
“A wry and frequently abrasive commentator on society and politics for 40 years now. Now he’s back with Song of Co-Aklan, an album that sees him doing what he does best… Both strange and touching in roughly equal measure” ~ Essentially Pop
Best known as co-founder and vocalist for seminal 80s/90s bands Microdisneyand The Fatima Mansions, who toured internationally with U2, the Cork native has been described as “the most underrated lyricist in pop today” by The Guardiannewspaper. DJ John Peel was also such a fan that he stated he could “listen to Cathal Coughlan sing the phone book”.
The song features a storming rhythm track from Microdisney/High Llamas bassist Jonathan Fell and Grand Necropolitan‘s drum powerhouse Nick Allum (The Fatima Mansions, The Apartments), reunited on record for the first time since the Fatima Mansions ‘Against Nature’ LP in 1989. Choral background vocals and slide guitar are contributed by Microdisney/ High Llamas alumnus John Bennett, as Sean O’Hagan(Microdisney, High Llamas, Stereolab) weigh indecisively on the synth at the song’s climax.
“This song reflects on the predicament of the damaged man who owes his great material success to the grotesque displays he makes out of his state of damage, by literally punching himself unconscious in the ring. A prisoner of success, he cannot escape his seamy working environment or improve upon his condition as a human. And still the queasy seaside masses show up, and keep him and his family in chintzy opulent style,” says Cathal Coughlan.
DirectorGeorge Seminara, who created the video for title track ‘Song of Co-Aklan’, returns to the fray to explore the plight of the subsistence-level carnival grotesque. This performer’s last-gasp pleas to camera are taken on a tour of scenes from his past life – the seaside attractions where he earned his despised fortune, the simple chapel where he was schooled in virtue prior to becoming addicted to losing at games of chance, and the various quiet pools of garish idolatry which lay on the path of sensual equivocation in between those two. Does he react? In a way – see those final frames.
The LP also features Luke Haines (The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder)on bass and baritone guitar, Grand Necropolitan Quartet alumnus James Woodrow on guitar, Rhodri Marsden(Scritti Politti) on bass, and cello by Audrey Riley(notable collaborator of Lush, The Sundays, The Smiths, Nick Cave, The Cure, The Go-Betweens, Smashing Pumpkins, Catherine Wheel, Moloko and Coldplay).
The eye-catching cover art for the ‘Song of Co-Aklan’ LP is by outsider artist Cristabel Christo and originated by Bruce Brand, award winning designer for The Darkness and Whites Stripes.
Cathal Coughlan is one of Ireland’s most revered singer-songwriters, beloved by fans of caustic literate lyricism and erudite songcraft. Since Fatima Mansions’ demise in the mid-90s, he has released five acclaimed solo albums, taken part in an array of collaborations and made many guest appearances. Along with Microdisney bandmates, he was the first recipient in 2019 of Ireland’s National Concert Hall Trailblazer Award, celebrating culturally important albums by iconic Irish musicians, songwriters and composers (for 1985’s ‘The Clock Comes Down The Stairs’).
Nick Allum – drums and percussion
Audrey Riley – cello
James Woodrow – electric & acoustic guitars
Rhodri Marsden – bass guitar, bassoon
Luke Haines – bass guitar, acoustic guitar, synth
Jonathan Fell – bass guitar
Sean O’Hagan – bass guitar & vocals, synth
Eileen Gogan – vocals
Andrías Ó Grúama – frictive guitar
John Bennett – vocals & slide guitar
Cory Gray – wurlitzer piano
Cathal Coughlan – Co-Aklan
Mastered by George Shilling
Cover by Bruce Brand & Mary Tee at Arthole
Front cover painting by Cristabel Christo, based in part on photos by Gregory Dunn / Stoneybutter
Composed and deranged by Cathal Coughlan