LARK’s latest release, Funny Man, is now available for purchase by clicking here. You may preview Funny Man on the band’s Soundcloud page or on Spotify. The album was recently reviewed by Sean Ferguson of whisperinandhollerin.com. According to Ferguson, “Funny Man is both raw and unpredictable. Tracks are driven by a brooding bassline or seedy guitar riff, and then coloured in various shades of black by the lyrics and vocal delivery of Bielik, which sound only as haunting as they are haunted.”
From the press release:
‘Funny Man’ is the fifth Lark album and possibly the most disingenuous title you are likely to encounter this year. Following acclaim from both critics and fellow musicians – Andrew Weatherall and Green Gartside have both remixed Lark – ‘Funny Man’ represents another vital staging post in the development of one of the most intriguing voices of current times.
Across its fourteen tracks of industrial feedback, sonorous declaration, low slung bass and warped shards of noise and melody, Lark (aka Karl Bielik) weave together a dark universe populated by fin de siècle nursery rhyme characters, shadows of 60’s social realism and the further reaches of the male psyche.
This is music reminiscent of dark nights in threatening locales. ‘Curtains’ is claustrophobia set to music, ‘Girl’ the least likely celebration of the birth of your first daughter you are ever likely to hear, ‘The Hood’ a headlong descent into the adult world of fairy story before the Brothers Grimm started their tidying up process. ‘Jettison’ goes the whole way, featuring Bielik wishing a plethora of grisly deaths upon himself featuring pool cues, bowie knifes and, most intriguingly, white bread, a litany of suicide scripted by ‘Red Riding’ era David Peace. Amongst the darkness and the lurking undertows of menace, ‘Funny Man’ is both an incredibly melodic and deeply intricate record, subtly deploying rhythm programming, sampling andediting alongside a core spine of more traditional song structure.
The interplay of male and female voices is a recurrent motif of ‘Funny Man’, Toni Hall (Silver Birches), La Petite Sonja (Kill The Dandies) and actress Keeley Forsyth all juxtapose, challenge and complement Bielik’s vocals throughout. These voices add tenderness but often danger, best demonstrated on the fairground waltz of death that is ‘Lost Words’ where Karl and Sonja come across like a Nancy and Lee for the serial killer generation, the effect is to up the not considerable air of menace and threat to critical.
Created in Lark’s East London studio, ‘Funny Man’ sees Bielik play everything on the original recordings, followed by a cast of musicians from locales as varied as his home patch in London, to Yorkshire and the Czech Republic. Contributing in person or down the wires the open ended approach of giving collaborators songs and asking them to do what they wanted led this latest Lark album into new waters, whilst still firmly molded by Bielik’s vision who was installed in the Producer’s chair throughout.
Perhaps it is the Catholicism of Bielik’s working practices as an artist, the interplay between different forms of expression of the same artistic ideas that makes Lark’s music so visible and visceral now. That Bielik didn’t make music until his late thirties marks out his music as detached from the zeitgeist despite its echoes of artists as diverse as Cabaret Voltaire, Leonard Cohen, Stephen Jones, Lou Reed and The Fall.
Those aware of Bielik’s other life, as an abstract painter soon to feature in the London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery, may draw parallels with that other aspect of his artistic vision and Bielik himself recognizes the similarities and sympathies between his two distinct areas of authorship:
‘If I only had one thing to focus on I might worry more but if I get stuck with painting I switch to the music studio and vice versa, lots of the ideas don’t come off, lots of work in both cases gets painted or recorded over but if I’m not going to have another idea I should give up is how I look at it. I pursue something until it works or it fails then move on.’