Song Of Co Alkan is the latest solo album by Cathal Coughlan of Fatima mansions and Microdisney legend. He assembled or worked remotely with a host of musical greats and frequent collaborators including Sean O'Hagan, Luke Haines, Rhodri Marsden, Audrey Riley, Nick Allum and James Woodrow.
The album opens with the title track and first single from the album The Song Of Co-Aklan is a fast paced song about the state of the world we are in and how we are all suffering for the plans and actions of one mad man or another and how being locked down has affected us all, Luke Haines and James Woodrow's guitarwork is often brilliant and the keyboards and synths played by Cathal add loads of interesting textural elements to add to the sense of disembodied despair many of us feel while updating our profiles and looking for a place of safety. It's also a song I've now heard so much it's achingly familiar and always grabs my attention when hearing it.
Passed Out Dog sounds almost like a song for a very bored security guard who is as listless as the Passed Out Dog just hoping the day will pass, so you have something else to do, but of course in the times we live in many of our lives are now just as stultifying as that of said Passed Out Dog lying around waiting for normality to return.
My Child Is Alive has a sense of foreboding musically before the terrible tale at the core of the song slowly unfolds almost like a modern story song in the style of Hans Eisler apart from the odd ending.
Crow Mother uses swear words in a super disarming fashion, so you almost don't notice them, as this tale of death among the rubble of normal life that in some ways seems to have echoes of David Bowie's We Are The Dead, this is full of the dread of our times.
St Wellbeing Axe is faster and tauter with the despair coming over in waves like a bad case of wellbeing advice from the wrong person, while it sounds a bit like it could have been on Bowies Black star album but with vocals that are more like John Cale at his most deadpan.
Owl In The Parlour is the slow ponderous second single from the album that wonders what's happened to our so called great nation, maybe we were never great to begin with.
Let's Flood The Fairground is spare and carefully accentuated as it builds into the shock of what it would be like if they did indeed flood a fairground as Cathal sings about the casual nature of religious hatred.
The Lobsters Dream is a very Burroughsian dream of a lobster wandering over seven deserts and some of the things that happen as we all want Lobster Power as let's face it they can't be worse than the idiots currently in power.
The Copper Beach hopefully doesn't mean Cathal is slathered in Coppertone sun-tan cream as he squares up with the bloke whose asked him outside for a dust up on this slow meandering tune with all sorts of odd musical embellishments that includes some spaghetti western harmonica and a deep bass drum pulse.
The Knockout Artist sounds like it may well be about the Harry Crews novel of the same name as he's poleaxed again falling to the floor over what sounds like The Divine comedy trying to mimic a Burt Bacharach production, this is sweeping elegiac and one of the stand-out tracks on this album.
Falling Out North Street for me brings up memories of falling off the back of buses on North Street in Romford in the late 70's, but I'm sure this is about a different North Street to that one. This is rather slow and careful musically unlike what's happening to the character being sung about.
The album closes with Unrealtime a slow careful meander through the nonrealtime of the last year or so viewed from the top of a tower block wondering if the streets will ever be full of life again.
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