By Paul Robicheau
In the event you’re up for a lofty problem, the experimental British rock outfit Black Midi is greater than poised to fill the void.
Dozens of dancers in nude bodysuits with feathery headpieces strut, writhe, bend, and boogie in taut choreography amid the clouds wafting earlier than a one-eyed obelisk deity. It’s a surreal scene of worship, demise, and rebirth, a backyard of unearthly delight and fright that nods to each Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Dr. Seuss in a single chaotic swoop.
Such is the wildly bizarre video to “John L” by Black Midi, the experimental British rock outfit named after a note-dense music subgenre. The busy visuals present the right embodiment of the soundtrack, as dancers gyrate and freeze to every jarring jog within the lead observe to the band’s beautiful second album, Cavalcade.
Ambition isn’t an issue for Black Midi, which serves a dizzying mashup of King Crimson-esque prog, artwork music, mathcore, and jazz skronk. After shedding a co-founding guitarist who stop to take care of his psychological well being, the remaining Gen Z trio of singer/guitarist Geordie Greep, bassist/singer Cameron Picton and killer drummer Morgan Simpson add a saxophonist and keyboardist to the combination for this follow-up to 2019’s Mercury Prize-nominated Schlagenheim and increase even additional.
“In all of the world there’s no escape from this infernal din,” Greep recites in “John L,” which matches the video with lyrics a few king in tatters who spouts everlasting phrases to “youngsters of Bethlehem” whereas “garbling non-song whips throngs into frenzy.” The music rides an incessant cackle of horns and guitar that appears like Afrobeat fed via a pc, laced with discordant sprays of piano.
After a Brecht-ian bossa nova about Marlene Dietrich injects an uncommon palette cleanser, Black Midi’s again on the assault. Clipped chords and difficult beats drop into start-and-stop blasts that evoke a stomping elephant in “Chondromalacia Patella” (the time period for “runner’s knee,” the place cartilage breaks down beneath the kneecap). And that music segues into “Sluggish,” the place Picton’s vocal and bass stand in creeping distinction to Greep’s nimble arpeggios and Simpson’s hyper drum cycles.
Kaleidoscopic dynamics drift into “Diamond Stuff,” a pastoral drip that grows right into a dreamy churn that may recall the band Grizzly Bear, coloured by bouzoukis, flute, bowed percussion, and a fretless zither. Black Midi’s core trio alone dabbles in so many devices throughout Cavalcade that it’s a disgrace they aren’t at all times clear within the combine. The group initially supposed to report simply demos on the aptly named Hellfire Studios close to Dublin with producer John “Spud” Murphy. They ended up embracing the texture and execution of those periods, even when the sound suffers.
Mania briefly returns in “Hogwash and Balderdash,” a cartoonish fable the place Greep coos a number of character voices amid skittering, lurching preparations. Then the listener is abruptly left afloat in acoustic fingerpicking because the guitarist croons “Everybody loves ascending fourths,” an inside joke on his shifting chord sequence. That 10-minute nearer, playfully titled “Ascending Forth,” builds to an operatic crescendo through references to “arcs of the larks” and “masterpiece schmaltz,” reinforcing the notion that the band can snicker at its personal drama.
Some individuals could argue that Black Midi’s eccentric maelstrom exists for the sake of extremes, odd juxtapositions which might be infinitely extra attention-grabbing than listenable. (Notice: the group has already bought out an Oct. 18 present on the Sinclair.) However should you’re up for a lofty problem, Black Midi is greater than poised to fill the void.
Paul Robicheau served greater than 20 years as contributing editor for music on the Improper Bostonian along with writing and images for the Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, and plenty of different publications. He was additionally the founding arts editor of Boston Metro.