“One of the most potent listens my ears have heard for some time” – Electronic Sound
The final salvo from the recently released and much applauded Telefís album ‘a hAon’ is the ‘Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics’ EP, which finds band members Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee (U2, REM, Modest Mouse, The Wombats) and Cathal Coughlan (Microdisney, Fatima Mansions) collaborating with revered electro-pop pioneer Thomas Leer, in addition to creating different versions of four key album tracks.
Telefís (Irish Gaelic for Television, pronounced Tele-feesh) is a collaboration between these two Irish iconoclasts. With Jacknife in LA and Cathal in London, the two spent 2020 trading ideas and musical files during lockdown, hatching plans for a satirical, mischievous examination of Irish history and pop culture in their lifetimes, which they’ve dubbed ”a corrosive nostalgia”. The resultant album ‘a hAon’ (number one), released by Dimple Discs on March 4, 2022.
A radio edit of the album’s dancefloor banger ‘Archbishop Beardmouth’ and Thomas Leer’s superb remix are accompanied by three new versions of ‘Picadors’, ‘Ballytransnational’ and ‘There Goes Waterface’, created by Jacknife Lee with spoken word appearances by family and friends. These meditative and reflective re-interpretations of the album versions frame Cathal’s lyrics in the voices of an older Irish generation, imbuing the words with a fresh sense of poetry and melancholy.
‘The only piece of music discussed during the first call with Cathal in 2020 was “Private Plane” by Thomas Leer. It was a pivotal record for both of us. It changed us when we heard it first and reunited us when the idea of Telefís emerged. Thomas Leer! Thomas Fucking Leer! My fantasy has come true,” says Jacknife Lee.
On the theme of the song Cathal Coughlan offers this vignette…”Archbishop Beardmouth visits the ChemOlympics, in his full Byzantine-Slavic magnificence, the giant torso-curtain of hair announcing him. He is very gratified by what he sees. Gone are the mandatory drugs tests and geopolitical skirmishes of yore, and instead, has come immaculate, chemically-enhanced performance. There’s only the occasional moment when the live camera feed has to be cut, in order to enable the re-reading of the script, and perhaps the replacement of a competitor. At these times, His Eminence loses interest in the spectacle, and becomes aware of the obsequious ravings of a young man seated below him, who points at a laptop screen full of animated bodies – devised, the young man says, by a special form of artificial intelligence. The youth tries to interest the prelate in buying into the “cryptocurrency” which will fund the growth of this technology, which is named “COPD-coin”. The young man explains that he named it this way because it represents a shock to the international order. His Eminence appears irked by this, and begins to grill the young man, “You wish to destabilise your own Motherland in this way? And you dare to approach the Lord God’s representative with this treason?” “No, no, Eminence”, the young man remonstrates, “It shall be prevented from trading in the Motherland. Only in the sinful and subhuman parts of the world will it be allowed to operate. Because those people are stupid, and decadent.” The Archbishop raises an eyebrow and leans forward. “Well then, how much money do you need to raise from this scheme?” Later, at the big reception for the dignitaries, there are home movie screenings. On the screen, we see vintage images of Ireland’s famed one-time Orthodox Jansenist Papal ruler, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid (sometimes depicted in the company of his earthly proxy, Éamon de Valera). He parades through a life of saintly self-love (since unfairly besmirched by individuals unfit to have breathed the same air as His Lordship) – from long-con shrine, to concrete basilica, to institution of pious incarceration. It could be said that we shall not see his like again – but let’s give it a go. Viva crypto!”
1. Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics (Radio Edit)
2. Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics (Thomas Leer Version)
3. Picadors (voiced by Auntie Joan)
4. Ballytransnational (voiced by Da and Esther)
5. There Goes Waterface (voiced by Mrs. Hegarty)