wed 23/06/2021

Album: black midi – Cavalcade | reviews, news & interviews

Album: black midi – Cavalcade

Album: black midi – Cavalcade

London experimentalists evolve into new pastures

A carnival of chaos

The title of Cavalcade, or a “dramatic procession”, could not describe better the contents of black midi’s new release. This cavalcade of an album moves between fast and noisy tracks like the singles “John L” and “Chondromalacia Patella” to the soulful “Marlene Dietrich”, the slowly building psychedelic repetition in “Diamond Stuff”, and the nearly 10-minute closing opus “Ascending Forth”.

In fact, black midi’s record pulls together a collage of musical, literary and historic references that may initially appear somewhat random – a place where acoustic and electric guitars, a violin, a jazzy saxophone and some powerful drumming (prog fans may even be reminded of a more gentle Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy) all co-exist rather peacefully.

black midi are committed to making variation a consistent characteristic of their output and Cavalcade is the result: imagine if King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Swans, the Cardiacs, and Primus went to the pub together and it ended up in the studio rather than in some bad-taste joke. Departing completely from their previous “rock band with a frontman and some punchy guitar riffs” formula, Geordie Grip, Cameron Picton, and Morgan Simpson (Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin is on hiatus) complement each other well in this carefully thought-through collection. In contrast with 2019’s Schlagenheim album though, Cavalcade sounds far less improvised and consequently, it also loses some of their debut’s groove and rawness.

Whether music fans embrace Cavalcade or not, one thing is certain: unlike other acts that usually attract significant attention with their debut album, Mercury Prize 2019 nominees black midi have not tried to replicate the style and sound of Schlagenheim but to evolve. Working with a new producer– John "Spud" Murphy (who’s also worked with Lankum and Katie Kim) instead of Dan Carey – seems to have played a key part. However, while Cavalcade is certainly intellectually stimulating, it also lacks real emotional depth.

black midi’s record pulls together a collage of musical, literary and historic references that may initially appear somewhat random

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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