A name from the past returning to stir up ears again with a new album is Karel Fialka, a man who became a potent part of electro pop in the eighties. In reality, Fialka has never truly been away, continuing to write and record with other bands and artists as well as being a well-respected and sought after artist on the production side of things. Mention his name though and certainly our thoughts, as a great many it seems, refer to eighties tracks such as The Eyes Have It and Hey Matthew as our last major memories. That is set to change though with the release of Peace v War, a set of songs created in collaboration with Racecar which simply and increasingly captivate.
Emerging around 1978, Fialka first drew attention with 7” single Armband, a song destined to become a cult classic. The Eyes Have It saw strong radio attention and further acclaim a year later, with the album it came from, Still Life an equally well-received offering spawning further eagerly received singles. Continuing to be an active songwriter with many of his tracks covered by numerous artists, it was not until 1987 with the release of the single Hey Matthew on Miles Copeland’s I.R.S. Records that Fialka hit the charts for his biggest success. Second album Human Animal grabbed attention the following year though fans had to wait almost a decade for its 2009 successor, Film Noir. It has been though, a host of years in regard to Fialka which has slipped us, again as others, personally by, which is why the pleasant surprise when being sent over the promo for Peace v War.
Written and recorded with the Racecar, which is Kevin McGowan and Richard Rogers, Peace v War is set to be a release casting Fialka back into the ears and radar of that great many. It is a lyrically sharp and emotionally irritable collection of songs looking at themes which are impacting on the modern world such as war, hunger, inequality, political chicanery and media manipulation. Musically though, it is a flavoursome maze of tracks which are as catchy and bright as their narratives are biting and dark.
Released only digitally and on 12″ vinyl which comes wrapped in a cover designed by Grammy Design Award nominee Mike Ross, you will excuse us if we look at Peace v War in the track order of the promo sent to us rather than what seems to be the different placing of songs on certainly the vinyl version, though both start with the excellent Political Animal. It is a song which saunters in with a mellow air and a smiling melodic coaxing though more inflamed grooves soon add to the still restrained but simultaneously catchy and sombre encounter. Led by the dark accusing tones of Fialka, there is a Fad Gadget air and texturing to the guitar shaped song which only adds to its urgent appeal, that and the easy to join chorus with its crowd of female led vocal infectiousness.
Variety is a soon show as another open hue to the album, Scratch The Surface for example nudging up to ears and appetite with its reggae seeded riffs and swagger which brings a scent not too removed from The Clash, even as keys lay their evocative ambience around the magnetic lure of rhythms and guitar which shows a great line in discord at times. That diversity continues as the likes of White Gold In The Aral Sea, with its even darker tone laced with Ruts spiced predation and emotive piano expression, and the exotically woven Synthetic Sin share their unique characters and fascinating landscapes. The first of the two is soaked in a brooding that infests the imagination but is swiftly eclipsed by the second and best track on the album. With a potent blend of vocals from the band and mystique hued melodies which hauntingly wind around the addictive sway and virulence of the song, it simply has ears and appetite eating out of its creative hands.
A bluesy air colludes with electronic resourcefulness in Calvary, a song which from a strong start just seems to blossom in weight and colour with each of its alluring four plus minutes whilst Listen To The World explores a vocal and melodic intimacy which nicely contrasts the broader themes and bodies of the songs around it, though its seeds lead to its own expansive look at the world. Vibrant rhythms make a smart temper to the slower tonal exploration of the track, but uniting to be part of another deceptively catchy encounter. That infectious energy is keen a part and parcel of most of Peace v War as shown again by the pop funk saunter of What Are You Gonna Do?, where a whisper of Heaven 17 emerges in its livelier chorus to again contrast and blend with a more solemn breath.
Our version of the album closes with two evocative instrumentals in the piano bred I Rode That Tide With The Starry-Eyed and the melodic dissonance of Obsession which in the vinyl’s line-up of songs provides a potent interlude mid-way.
Whichever order of the songs, there is no lack of thorough enjoyment found within Peace v War, all three musicians and songwriters creating songs which stimulate and pleasure the senses in equal measure. It is not quite right to say that Karel Fialka is back, he has never really been away, but certainly he with Racecar is set to be the focus of good attention again.
Peace v War is released digitally and on 12” vinyl via PVW Records on February 26th through most stores or directly through Cadiz Music Ltd @ http://www.cadizmusic.com/2007/index.php?location=/web/Search/karel%20fialka
Pete RingMaster 25/02/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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