The sun is streaming through my window as the UK swelters beneath the longest heatwave since records began, but the sound pouring from my speakers is made entirely of shadows and fog. The Last Woman, the sixth offering from musician and abstract painter Karl Bielik, aka LARK, and his collection of associates is not, it’s fair to say, a summery album and the contrast between the brightness of the outside world and the darkness of its interior is stark.
Rarely proceeding beyond a funereal pace, with dense, sludgy guitars and grinding electronic percussion, this is an album that explores the depths of the human condition. Bielik’s deep growl delves into age, loss and melancholy amongst the industrial buzz and distorted sci-fi organs.
That’s not to say that it’s all despair and depression however, and the dark tapestry that is woven throughout is pocked with occasional moments of light, humour and tenderness which shine all the brighter against the murky background.
LARK albums have always inhabited their own world, with a cinematic capacity to transport the listener out of their immediate surroundings. The Last Woman is no different – shot in artful black and white in a deserted industrial town, mist rolling through the streets, with the occasional pop of colour offering a fleeting hope of a happy ending.
Review by Paul Maps