Talos At Whelan’s – Review
The musical brainchild of Cork musician Eoin French, Talos, first made waves with debut release Tethered Bones in 2014, and have since gone from strength to strength with each subsequent release. This year’s O Sanctum EP further widened the band’s audience and to date, Talos have stealthily racked up in excess of 1.5 millions Spotify plays. In addition to the spellbinding music, the group appear to be a multifaceted artistic project, with regular collaborations with creative arts company ‘Feel Good Lost’ creating a suitable visual accompaniment, a dusk-lit aesthetic that encompasses both music videos and artwork. A rare presence in the capital in terms of live performances, tonight’s sold-out Whelan’s show marks their first Dublin headliner, following some well-received Summer festival appearances and a slot at the Hard Working Class Heroes showcase that threatened to overshadow everything else that weekend.
With such a small catalogue of commercially released material from which to choose, the challenge tonight is keeping the attention of a packed but somewhat boisterous audience amid the swath of new material. Thankfully the sometimes overly-talkative crowd is self-policed with requests for silence coming from within and impeccably respected once the music begins. In a defiant show of confidence, some of the better known songs are dispatched early in the set. The trip-hop beats and low-end synth swells of ‘Bloom’ bring to mind the eerie atmospherics of early Massive Attack. Immediately evident is the near-perfect recreation of the band’s sound on record. With much less reliance on laptops than one might have expected, the 6-piece reproduce the electronic flourishes that made the first two EPs such a captivating listen. Just like recent Radiohead live shows, the utilisation of two percussionists gives the music a rich multi-layered polyphonic quality. The use of violin bows on both guitar and bass guitar à la Sigur Ros also helps bring the studio elements to life on stage. The show revolves around frontman Eoin French, as he moves between keyboards and guitar throughout the show, blessed with a falsetto voice that seems to add deeper meaning to every word he sings.
Many of the more subdued moments tonight recall the beautifully sparse minimalism of Foals’ ‘Spanish Sahara’, with textures built around heavy reverb and silences that speak as loud as the music itself. But it’s the new as-yet-unheard material that makes tonight something special. ‘Contra’ and ‘This Is Us Colliding’ immediately sound the equal of anything released thus far, while both ‘209’ and ‘Odyssey’ sound toweringly huge on first listen. The opening guitar notes of 2015 single ‘In Time’, possibly the best song in the Talos armoury, elicit excited cheers from the audience. “We are just shadows in the cascades of history” makes for unlikely singalong material but that is exactly what the packed crowd do.
Tonight shows that electronic instruments are capable of being just as emotionally effecting as acoustic based sounds, and Talos really excel when utilising a blend of both. What matters most however are the songs, and they have those in spades. Having just finished its recording, next year’s debut album is already shaping up to be one of the releases of 2017. Tonight, Talos produced an hour long set that oozed class from the first note to the last, making for a truly special musical experience.