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Lark - The Last Woman

  by Erick Mertz

published: 25 / 9 / 2018



Lark - The Last Woman
Label: Standard Lamp Records
Format: CD

intro

Compelling but chaotic and flawed lo-fi electronica from London-based musician and visual artist Lark


On 'The Last Woman', Lark offers a set of fresh new tracks that prove a tidy fit in the volatile stream of his ten-year catalogue of albums and singles. Anyone who has heard the London one-man band should feel no surprise that this most recent record opens on a moody note. 'Dowdy' is agonizingly slow and built around a heavy beat that sets a drowsy template for the following tracks. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Karl Bielik throws dirty raps out over a grubby industrial guitar on 'John Berger’s Wild Shirt' and the persona he creates comes across as desperate, rapping about the game and about discontent in a powerful way that speaks to the world of today. I really like the powerful bass on 'Broken' which evokes an idea of whip smart dance, and the strained and addled vocals conjure up images of basement clubs and pulsing, seizure inducing lights. Pushing that idea a step further, the boldly melodramatic 'Nightclub' is a call back to Berlin-era Iggy Pop and David Bowie, an end of the night meets end of days track that would have a home on 'Low' or 'The Idiot'. Instrumentally, I found 'One Step' to be my favourite track, for no reason other than perhaps how it marries a slightly upbeat tempo to a swill of snark and seediness. 'The Last Woman' leaves me feeling that Lark aspires to elevate their grimy genre into a more elegant brand of bawdy gutter electronics tempted by artists like Mark Lanegan (on certain records). Something falls short for me though. Bielik is compelling on the microphone, idiosyncratic writing sings, and the drawn-and-quartered production brings out a gallows feeling, but this batch of songs aren’t terribly strong. On 'Kneel and Serve'. for example, the instrumentation fades out without crescendo or catharsis. Even though the heavy piano leads at core feel splendidly sad and a tonal match to the rest of the record, it ultimately comes across as sad for sad’s sake. As well as a swarthy musician, Bielik is a visual artist as well and an iconoclastic one at that and the mordant chaos festering on this record mirrors much of what comes across in his visual art. This record demonstrates a vision, but for me it’s a cloudy vision at best. Ultimately, 'The Last Woman' feels like it’s reaching for a concept that it doesn’t fully sell and too often the song ideas winnow down to less before actualization.



Track Listing:-
1 Dowdy
2 Kneel and Serve
3 John Berger's Wild Shirt
4 Lady Veronique
5 Broken
6 Way Out West
7 Nightclub
8 Bleaching Out
9 Nothing
10 One Step
11 Here for You
12 Mr Choo Choo


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/LARK2012
http://lark1.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/Lark_2006
https://www.youtube.com/user/larkbielik
http://www.karlbielik.com/lark



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