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Talos

Talos
“I started my first band around the same time I started studying architecture,” says Eoin French, the Irish artist better known as Talos. “The two fed into each other and their influences just naturally started to cross-pollinate, so they’ve always been intertwined in my life.”One listen to Talos’ brilliant debut, Wild Alee, and his architecture background begins to make perfect sense. The  music  is  grand  and  soaring,  perpetually  reaching  skyward  while  remaining  firmly  grounded  with foundations dug deep into the soil. Some songs are bright and airy, full of natural light, while others lend an eerie and imposing atmosphere, all shadowy corners and mirrored hallways. Blending elements of electronic pop and soulful R&B with hypnotizing synthscapes and haunting vocals, each track offers its own vivid sense of  space,  conjuring  up  an  immersive  journey  that  blurs  the  lines  between  dreaming  and  waking,  between reality and fantasy, between the ordinary and the extraordinary.“I’d like to think that the music is transportive,” French reflects. “Even though the songs came from a painful place, there’s an optimistic thread running through them because I wanted to create something uplifting. I wrote these songs as a promise of better things to come.”Better  things  did  indeed  come.  Upon  its  original  release  overseas  in  2017, Wild  Alee was  hailed as “a spectacularly assured debut" (The Irish Times), while The Independent called it “stunning,” and The Line Of Best Fitraved that the music “will leave your hairs standing on end.” Some of the earliest fans in the States included The  New  York  Times  T  Magazine, which praised the songs’ “taut, chilling complexity,” and The FADER,which swooned for their “swirling” splendor. The record garnered love from BBC Radio 1, racked up more  than  16  million  streams  on  Spotify, made  the  shortlist  for  the  prestigious  RTÉ Choice  Music  Prize  for Irish Album of the Year, and earned Talos (which performs live as a six-piece) a sold-out release tour along with festival appearances everywhere from Electric Picnic to Airwaves. Now,  as  French  prepares  a  deluxe  reissue of Wild  Aleecomplete  with  a  four-track  bonus  EP  titled Then There Was War, it’s difficult to overstate just how unlikely all of this seemed only a few years ago. Back then, French  was  readying  himself  for  a  new  life  in  America  when  unexpected  personal  challenges  suddenly conspired to ground him just weeks before his planned departure. Instead of stepping on a plane, he found himself  sitting  at  home  with  no  hope  and  no  prospects.  Writing  music  became  a  form  of  escape,  an opportunity to leave his circumstances behind and create his own world right where he was.“A lot of the songs on the album represent this imagined journey,” French explains. “They’re very visual and capture these particular spaces and scenes that I felt like, maybe subconsciously, I had missed out on. I was envisioning them through the music I was creating.”French  picked  up  work  lecturing  in  architecture  at  the  University  College  Cork  to  make  ends  meet  as  he meticulously  crafted  his  songs,  building  each  track  from  the  ground  up.  While  early  Talos  tunes  like  the dreamy, heartwrenching “TetheredBones” spread like wildfire online, French insisted on moving at his own rate,  pushing  himself  deeper  and  deeper  with  every  track.  The  more  time  he  spent  recording,  the  more intricate  and  sophisticated  his  demos  became,  and  slowly  but  steadily,  he  amassedthe  material  for Wild Alee.“It took four and a half years to make the record,” says French, who worked on the music in Dublin and Iceland  before  ultimately  returning  to  finish  it  in  West  Cork  with  producer  Ross  Dowling  (James  Vincent McMorrow,  Bell  X1).“If it had happened at a more rapid pace, I don’t think I would have had as much control over it, and I don’t think it would have felt nearly as personal to me as it does.”The  end  result  is  an  arresting  blend  of  ache  and  beauty,  a  record  that  encompasses  both  joy  and  pain  in equal measure. The ‘Alee’ of the album’s title refers to the side of a ship that’s sheltered from the wind in a storm, and that coexistence of peace and tumult is a perfect reflection of the music’s duality: revealing and private,  curious  and  comforting,  strange  and  familiar.  The  spacious  “This  Is  Us  Colliding”  engages  in unflinching self-examination, while the abstract lyrics of the breezy “Contra” paint a portrait of lovers seeking refuge in each other, and the defiant “Voices” celebrates  the  magic  of  throwing  caution  to  the  wind  and stepping into the unknown.But where Wild Aleefloats through the darkness on an undercurrent of optimism and faith in brighter days to come, Then There Was War examines a harsher reality where the darkness remains.
“I think the EP is the record’s antithesis, which is just the way I wanted it,” says French. “It’s boisterous and haphazard in places. It’s more expansive and it’s deeper. I suppose it’s kind of post-apocalyptic in a way.”Lead single “Kansas” shifts from haunting to explosive as it examines our penchant for self-destruction, while “Odyssey Part 2” takes the hopeful quest from the LP to a far more sinister place, imagining that only emptiness  and  solitude await at the journey’s end. Despite the EP’s seemingly nihilistic outlook, though, a silver lining emerges with “D.O.A.M.,” in which the departure of a muse, while difficult, prompts French to realize that he’s possessed this art inside himself all along. “The music is an honest reflection of myself,”French concludes. “I'm not hiding anything here. People can take it or leave it, but these songs highlight me starkly, with every blemish and mark.”In  that  respect,  French  is  still  something  of  an  architect,  and Wild  Alee is  one  of  his  ultimate  designs:  a magnificent musical creation that’s simultaneously fragile and powerful, transparent and reflective, revealing and  protective,  a  house  of  glass  and  steel.  Sturdy  enough  to  weather  even  the  most  turbulent  of  storms, these  are  the  songs  of  a  master  craftsman,  painstakingly  assembled  from  the  heart  and  built  to  last  a lifetime.