Black Midi | Feature

Black Midi Feature Artists Mercury Prize 2019

Black Midi | Feature Artist

Out of nowhere, came Black Midi. I’ve heard many ways to describe them (my favourite of which being ‘Talking Heads on Crack’), but I think the easiest way to talk about them is to say that they seem like they want to be the last rock band. Black Midi refers to a production trick that layers seemingly millions of notes to create something resonating the initial music (see here). At its extremes, It’s like listening to a lo-fi black metal cassette or trying to find music in the crashing of a wave. It’s an almost inaudible nuclear blast of sonics, that one must simply find their own meaning in. Although quite poetic, Black Midi leave no ambiguity in what they are creating. They are blending art, math and noise rock to leave one of the most impressive and earth-shattering debuts I’ve ever heard.

I rarely talk about an artist on the back of one album, but these guys deserve everything they are gaining and buckets more. With one album I believe they have pushed the envelope one step further into tasteful, yet dangerous experimentation in rock music. For the time being, they are the cutting edge, and just listen to their debut ‘Schlagenheim’ to see why.

The album is a beautiful pool of violent and exotic influences. It launches into action with ‘953’, a sensory onslaught of chaos, but then calmly flows into peaceful, almost reggae verses to then swirl and build back into the initial mayhem of things. Continuing on Reggae influences, we see ‘Speedway’ briskly usher out chaos for sinister subtlety. Every song presents a unique continuation and/or expansion upon the ideas established, without becoming tired or repetitive. We see the closest thing to a hit from the record in ‘Bmbmbm’. Although not the most digestible of the Black Midi catalogue, it’s the closest they come to radio rock.

The lyrics on the record span from Pentecostal tongue to profound personal statements on perseverance and self-acceptance, to then revert into sexual innuendo. This is best seen on the closer ‘Ducter’, to which the band starts with “From now on, I will be like this all of the time”. And if that means more music on this quality, Black Midi should be exactly themselves all the time, because this is auditory gold.

The album earned Black Midi a Mercury Prize Nomination alongside their European contemporaries such as IDLES and Fontaines D.C. The band performed ‘Bmbmbm’ much to the exhilaration and confusion of the audience (see here), giving probably the most jarring performance of the night. Out of the Mercury Prize class of 2019, Black Midi is easily the most exciting, and I am dying for them to tour Australia.

For the time being, outside of a few singles and Boiler room sets, all is quiet on the Black Midi front. To see the direction they take on the subsequent record is one of my most anticipated releases of the next few years, and after listening to Schlagenheim, you’ll see why.

Featured Albums: Black Midi

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