Karel Fialka – Peace v War (featuring Racecar)

Photo by Mike Ross

Photo by Mike Ross

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.

art_RingMaster ReviewWritten 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

https://www.facebook.com/fialkakarel   http://karelfialka.com/

Pete RingMaster 25/02/2016

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We Came As Strangers – Still Life

WCAS_RingMaster Review

Ahead of third album Eyedom, English based seduction We Came As Strangers release their new single Still Life, a mesmeric embrace and teaser which inescapably stirs up the imagination and appetite for their oncoming full-length.

Since forming vocalist Ellem, guitarist Justin Sandercoe, keyboardist Owen Thomas, bass player Tim Harries, with drummer Tom Meadows has persistently fascinated and immersed ears and indeed thoughts with their increasingly evocative blend of folk, rock, and avant-garde invention. Previous albums Recipe for Adventure and Shattered Matter have taken the listener on flights of trippy alternative rock/pop. Acclaim and increasing stature has constantly followed in the wake of the band’s releases but if Still life is the full suggestiveness of what Eyedom will hold, We Came As Strangers’ greatest success and rewards are around the corner.

From the quirky opening keys, swiftly followed by the ever siren like tones of Ellem, the song romances the senses and imagination. Rhythms are soon adding their darker temperament and richness though whilst guitars and keys entwine their own thick and individually sultry melodic charms. In no time it is a bewitching persuasion locked in drama and creative flirtation. Ethereal and haunting, summery and shadowed, the song is simply virulent seduction, its chorus alone sparking tingles certainly down our spines.

The video below will reveal the rest of the song’s fascinating majesty and equally why, as for so many others, Eyedom just cannot engulf ears soon enough.

Still Life is available from July 20th

https://www.facebook.com/WeCameAsStrangers   http://wecameasstrangers.com/

RingMaster 20/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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American Standards – Still Life

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With a debut album planned for the latter part of the year we thought it was worth checking out the Still Life EP from US hardcore band American Standards. It may have been out a while but as possibly many, like us, missed its initial unveiling and it is so damn good there is no better time to catch up and fire up a hunger for the forthcoming full length release.

From Phoenix, Arizona, the quartet of vocalist Brandon Kellum, guitarist Brennen Westermeyer, bassist Corey Skowronski, and drummer Geoff Gittleson, has earned a strong reputation for their live performances and sound which though we called them a hardcore band takes in many more potent essences such as punk and noise rock. It is a riveting confrontation and at times borders unleashing disorientation with its passion bred intensity and creative maelstrom. The unpredictable and diverse imagination to its invention though is an easy capture of the imagination with band and sound having the depth and flavours to ignite the appetite of all fans from the likes of Cancer Bats and Every Time I Die through to those of Dead Kennedys and on to devourers of the kind of noise the likes of Coilguns, Retox, and Blood Brothers conjure. Since forming the band has toured extensively across the US especially through 2012, playing with bands such as Sick Of It All, Trial, Touché Amore, and Joyce Manor and making successful appearances at numerous festivals including Within These Walls, The Punk Rock Picnic, and inFEST. Since the release of Still Life, American Standards has signed with Victory Records for the new album and continued to explode stages with their devastating sound.

Released via indie label We Are Triumphant, the EP opens with the brief and irresistibly caustic Self (En)titled, the track coverinstantly attacking the ear with vocal venom and soon joined by an emerging rhythmic and sonic provocation. It is the perfect introduction to open up attention and set the wheels of intimidation and incitement in motion as it boils up into the following Raised By Wolves. Again the coarse vocals of Kellum seize the opening seconds, his delivery a harsh but excellent rub on the senses immediately wrapped in another fury of sonic and rhythmic challenge. There is an earthy groove soon in place to start a deeper contagion aided by group scowls and the enslaving beats of Gittleson but it is just the appetiser as the track explores veins of infectious alternative rock alongside rapacious riff greed to ignite greater flames of passion for its confrontation.

The close of the track also sees the bass of Skowronski develop a predatory throat to its growl which is scintillating and across subsequent tracks prowls and chews the senses and emotions with greater and more carnivorous glory starting with Bottom Feeder. A sonic tease comes with drum foot stomps to open up the fury, and is soon led into a jugular ripping primal assault, vocals and the guitar of Westermeyer scything through the air with acidic malevolence. The unexpected offering of clean vocals is another rewarding and pleasing element and tempers the sonic fire and bass/drum barbarity which threatens throughout.

Both Paradigm-Alt-Shift-Delete and Harvester continue drawing stronger impressed reactions to the release. The first is a tempest of metallic vengeance crafted by again excellent bass and drum vehemence further fuelled by the twisting guitar grooves and varied vocals which switch from seduction to antagonism note by note. With flames of noise rock and discord taunts, the song is a thrilling adventure of predacious design, senses and thoughts lured and exploited by the excellent enterprise and insidious invention of every element of song and band, especially that bass. Its successor is equally corrosive and eager to offload its sonic rabidity onto nerves and synapses, a ferocity driven by arcs of guitar sonically honed imagination, flesh searing vocals, and steel jawed basslines gnawing away from start to finish. Not for the first time American Standards take exciting detours from the assault, here vocal harmonies allowing breaths to be taken and passions to leap before the returning savagery brings a triumphant climax.

The release is completed by the fearsome punk goading of The Red Queen and the crawling intrusive primal chaos that is the title track, its opening lumbering gait evolving through oppressive washes of intensive rage vocally and musically and varying unpredictable pace changes. Again there is a constant flood of ideas and variations all successfully and seamlessly infused into the emotive furnace. The two tracks leave the richest impressions and satisfaction to confirm the release as something quite immense.

Rather than wait for, what on the evidence of the EP, will be an album to bring another striking and exciting provocation, we suggest the Still Life EP should be confronted right away and allowed to feast on thoughts and passions, and as a name your own price offer on their Bandcamp profile, American Standards have given an invitation impossible to refuse, especially when it one of the best hardcore releases to come along in the past year.

http://americanstndrds.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanStandards

9/10

RingMaster 27/06/2013

 

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