Talos launched his debut album ‘Wild Alee’ in The Button Factory on Friday. Along with Fionn Regan’s ‘The Meetings of the Waters’ it is one of the first buzz releases of the year, with people already speaking of possible Choice Music Prize nominations for both.
We’ve been aware of Talos aka Eoin French for some time now; the architect turned musician featured in our Plec Picks series last year after he snared our gaze with tracks such as In Time and Tethered Bones. And earlier still with his output as part of Hush War Cry.
Talos’ ranks have swelled (onstage at least) since his early days as a singularity, and tonight the band are at times six musicians strong – sometimes seven – and as a result the sound has swelled, fleshing out French’s sonic palette to the appropriate diameter to immerse French’s angelic falsetto vocals.
But first, a member of the current crop of Plec Picks artists, Bad Bones, unleashes her gender fluid array of writhing beats and dark choral fantasies. For anybody expecting an evening wistful troubadouring, Bad Bones may well have been an unexpected jolt to the system.
Sal Stapelton AKA Bad Bones, clad in a half facemask, black hoodie and leather jacket, casts a striking anarchistic vista from the stage. She drums passionately with her right hand and triggers her unusual melding of choral chants and samples with her left; all the while singing in both male and female registers simultaneously.
The anarchistic sexual playfulness of her compositions are heightened by the use of two interpretive dancers, who enter the crowd back flipping and body popping through her set as if V For Vendetta had been adapted Off-Broadway by a dance troupe.
The effect was appropriately disconcerting but would have been lost on those further back in the crow due to the geography of The Button Factory. A larger stage would surely allow Bad Bones to ramp up tension for an audience, but nonetheless this was a fine performance from Bad Bones, even if it did leave many out of their comfort zone.
However, having such a juxtaposition of styles was a clever move by Talos, as a similar act may have detracted from French’s own gift. Bad Bones proved the perfect foil in this regard. A drone quickens to cleanse the ears as French and co take to the stage with current single Odyssey. It’s an instant advertisement for French’s powerful, yet sweet and angelic voice, and though some songs work better than others it is French’s vocal gymnastics that are the unwavering highlight of proceedings throughout the performance.
The move from singularity to full-fledged band is obviously an ongoing process. On some songs the accompanying musicians are simply engaged in musical shadowboxing with French. They follow his lead and mimic his musical blueprints perfectly, creating the perfect template for his voice to deliver the knockout blows.
This is perfect for certain songs, but with such a heavily stylised compositional style the effect runs the risk of becoming overly-repetitious for audiences. French will have to flesh out his compositions more in future to avoid the risk of losing his audience going forwards.
On other songs, the evolution of Talos as a band is quiet clear. In Time has been prolonged giving the guitarist time to produce an extended solo. That is not to for one second suggest the assembled musicians are not accomplished – bass and electric guitar are both bowed like violins on several occasions to create atmospheric, swathing crescendos and the keyboard player bounces skilfully between cello and synth throughout the performance.
The interplay between the two drummers is also impressive especially on Voices. There are also heavier moments, especially during the encore, which suggest that Talos could take on the left of mainstream synth pop bands in the future if they so wish.
But there’s no denying that Eoin French is the star of the show here. When he goes it alone for haunting piano ballad Pieces, the power of his vocal is palpable and the crowd are transfixed.
The exciting thing about Talos right now is that you can chart the development of the group and see them growing before your eyes, with the potential to grow much further in the future, yet such is their apparent potential it still feels like they are at the beginning of a journey rather than some midway point.
In the search for ‘Wild Alee’ Talos are merely raising anchor and preparing to set sail.