In a sentence:
The intense hype around experimental noise-rockers Black Midi is justified by the breakneck mania of their debut album ‘Schlagenheim’.
Even if you only dabbled in the world of noise or experimental rock, you’d have to go to great lengths to not recognise the quick-building buzz around Black Midi. Having sharpened their teeth at The Brit School and being aptly named after a complex Japanese genre revolving around the mass multi-layering of notes, Black Midi are the latest hardcore outfit to grab the attention of the underground music world. With their recent signing to Rough Trade, a label renowned for pushing innovative music, the four-piece seem to be on track for mass acclaim despite a relatively small catalogue. As publications scramble to shape their opinions on the band, almost as if not saying anything would ruin them, Black Midi’s hype has reached feverous levels ahead of their debut album, Schlagenheim.
one of the more accessible tracks on the album, subdued and poised vocals wash
over you to create a feeling of wonder. This, like many other delicate parts on
Schlagenheim, is short-lived as frenzied, skeletal drumming enters and
soon establishes an uneasy feel in the first part of the track. As it picks up
traction, the drumming becomes progressively more agitated, pushing at the
limits of its own structure. These limitations are short lived as it unleashes
itself into a frantic flurry joined by battering guitar melodies and
theatrically maddened vocals. As the guitars writhe and judder, the listener
becomes lost within the mania of the track.
This mania acts as a big theme throughout Schlagenheim.
Whether it’s the flippant-turned-mocking refrain Geordie Greep delivers on ‘bmbmbm’, where demonic
mumbling adds a feeling of anxiousness before wailing guitars swallow the track,
or the abrasive guitar on ‘Of
Schlagenheim’, the soundscapes put forth reflect those of a scrambled madman.
If Black Midi’s music wasn’t simply an expression of their penchant for
menacing aesthetic, you’d be deeply worried by the content on this album. From
nightmarish descriptions of ravens’ teeth and “the hands of sweating old
landlords” to taunting his sexual identity on ‘Ducter’ to mentions of
mange, the lyrics penned seem like something pulled directly out of a diary
There’s also a distinct feeling of deterioration throughout
the album. The distortion on tracks like ‘Western’ almost make it sound
like the instrumentation is wounded, calling out for some kind of solace as the
song speeds along like a Black Sabbath-inspired doomsday brigade. The cacophony
of clambering guitars and other equally downcast elements on the opener ‘953’ sound like they’re
falling apart as they channel all their energy into their last hoorah. Sparsely
placed lulls also give the listener little rest as the song goes through a
cycle of disassembly and reconstruction. Through its disregard for convention, Schlagenhein
is inherently punk but its complexity offers something much more
Twisted, warped and indescribable in nature, Black Midi’s
debut feels more like a mutated piece of art than it does a set of songs. Like
the image pasted on the cover, their style of noise rock is massively abstract
but perfectly captures the feeling of anguish and depravity that lurk in the
depths of the most tormented minds. (8/10) (Daniel Antunes)
Listen to Schlagenheim by Black Midi here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Black Midi, Cameron Picton, Daniel Antunes, Geordie Greep, Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin, Morgan Simpson, review, Rough Trade, Schlagenheim
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