Cathal Coughlan -Rancho Tetrahedron
A lot of you may remember much lauded 1980s and 1990s Irish bands Microdisney and Fatima Mansions. A lot of you may own some of their albums, but unfortunately, not many people have been keeping track of their singer Cathal Coughlan’s solo output. He rarely makes a splash on the Irish scene, with many looking back to Microdisney instead of checking out what he has to offer today. Rancho Tetrahedron is his fifth solo album (although it’s credited to Cathal Coughlan and the Grand Necropolitan Quartet), and probably offers up his best solo work to date.
For such a dark album, what’s surprising is the sheer amount of joy you can feel emanating from Coughlan’s vocal. It’s by far his best asset, and proves once again that he’s the natural successor to Scott Walker. It’s a bleak autumn record, and the August 8th release date was well orchestrated. The album is perfect for the shorter days, and longer nights; its dark themes tying in with those long black evenings.
The lyrics are menacing, and match the broody melodies which underpin the album’s twelve tracks. Coughlan’s turn of phrase is as strong as ever, on ‘Rancho Tetrahedron #2′ particularly: “Bought up some tricolours, some stars, some stripes / to give us universal squatters’ rights” The dark themes of opener ‘Shipman Memorial’ are juxtaposed with an enchanting melody, similarly ‘The Examined Life’ is a harsh treatise on the horrific beauty of it all. But when Coughlan sings, it’s hard not to be drawn in
The thing with Rancho Tetrahedron is that it lacks immediacy. It won’t be for everyone – Coughlan never was. It won’t hit you on first listen, it may not hit you on the third listen. But if you spend time with the record, it will reward you.