Over the past few years, rock ‘n’ roll has looked a bit like an episode of The Walking Dead: stone-dead, but simultaneously ineradicable. Black Midi is bringing the zombie back to life.
“They sound like everything and nothing that I have ever heard,” a fan wrote under the video of a concert that Black Midi played at the end of last year at the Kex Hostel in Reykjavik during the Iceland Airwaves festival. For a band that employs the rock idiom, that’s a big compliment. On their debut, Schlagenheim, which was released just before the summer and has already been nominated for the Mercury Prize, the London-based kids shake up the box of rock ‘n’ roll blocks, disproving all those who thought that all the puzzle pieces were already in place!
The funny thing is that singer Geordie Greep, guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin, drummer Morgan Simpson, and bassist Cameron Picton met each other at...the BRIT School (yes, Adele and Amy Winehouse also studied there): they are music nerds, but they throw all the rules overboard. Initially, this method resulted in twenty minutes of apocalyptic growling that sounded something like the American noise pioneers Swans, until Picton arrived and condensed the groove. Though that might be an overstatement: to listen to the songs on Schlagenheim is to be dragged away into a crazy pinball machine where the ball whacks back and forth between art punk, psychedelic noise, scorching math rock, twisted funk, and hypnotizing krautrock. Played with the attitude of radical jazz cats: you never know what will happen after the next volcanic break.
An incredible wave of guitar bands is rolling in across the Channel, including Shame, Idles, Fontaines D.C., and especially The Murder Capital. Bands with words like fists and guitars like razorblades that form a merciless mirror for our fragmented, ominous world. But the band that polished the mirror the best is unquestionably Black Midi. If you saw them at the AB during the BRDCST festival, you’ll know that their performance at the Beursschouwburg will be nothing less than legendary.