Non-Fi Is the Best Fi by Fi (Review)

A fresh sound that captures interest with beautiful songwriting and lush instrumentation.

The glamour rock of the ’70s has made its return with the creation of Fi. Kenn Jankowski at one time played keys for the Kansas City group The People, which also redeemed that ’70s glam quality, but now has brought on a new project that incorporates the theatrical feel of Freddy Mercury’s Queen and the vocals and many spacey trademarks of late ’70s Bowie. The People, who are still playing even after breaking up for a brief stint, have turned with a more rock n’ roll feel. I recently saw them at Cornerstone ’01, and I was not nearly as impressed as I was a year ago when the keys were more present. Fi, on the other hand, played a set comparable to that of the People’s a year ago, though plagued with bad sound. Though not their fault, it definitely did not reflect the complexity and variety present on Non-Fi Is The Best Fi.

The present disc is a mere 5 songs and considered a demo with its shoddy inlay and jewel case, but don’t let the cover fool you. What the disc contains is a fresh sound that captures interest with beautiful songwriting and lush instrumentation. The demo was recorded on a digital 8‑track, but sounds far better than that. This may be some of the most creative material that will more than likely be hidden from a mass audience. I consider myself one of the lucky ones who stumbled across such a gem.

The opening track, “Rocket Ride,” begins with an almost hard rock introduction complete with solo, but then abruptly stops as the piano trots in with Kenn’s vocals. The voice is uncanningly similar to that of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era as the song quickly returns to the previous rock. During “Metroids,” the vocals are reminiscent of the well-known “Space Oddity” and the music itself has a space quality that seems to float along eerily with analogue synths. “In World” finds even more electronics being used as piano is set over synth and electronic beats with the big ’70s-era chorus. There are even hints of early ’80s new wave in “Metroids” and “Not Your Type.”

The EP appears to progress in time through each song. The final song, “Asking For Fire and the Unthinkable,” is by far the darkest track with mournful, droning keys and vocals. The beats are similar to an industrial/trip-hop type that seems to creep along with oceanic, airy sounds lathered over. Unfortunately, the EP ends with the end of the song. I will definitely be awaiting a full-length in the future.

Written by Nolan Shigley.

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