“Get down early to see Black Midi,” demanded Shame ahead of their 100 Club show earlier this year, “Best band in London.” From a group who’ve been heralded in all corners as one of the best in the country – and the figureheads of London’s emergent guitar scene – it’s high praise. What’s more, it’s far from the first time they’ve expressed their adoration for the mysterious group. “Disturbingly brilliant,” Shame dubbed Black Midi back in November of last year; “mighty” they called them just a few days later.
Come this past weekend’s Great Escape festival in Brighton, Black Midi were on the lips of everyone in the know. An early slot at the Black Lion pub on Thursday afternoon was packed out, while a 2:15am re-appearance at The Green Door Store saw weary, wasted punters dragging themselves through the night, desperate for another glimpse of this elusive group.
Despite not having a single track online, Black Midi have fast become one of new British music’s hottest properties. Playing their scarcity to their advantage, comments boards and word-of-mouth have become their currency, as fans have clamoured for any scrap of information available. A profile in industry bible Music Week – their only discernible press to date – identifies them as Geordie, Morgan, Matt and Cameron, from Selhurst in Croydon. Other than that, you’ll have to use your imagination.
A recently unveiled session with NTS Radio – just one unnamed song, performed live in a Hackney rehearsal studio – was the meatiest morsel Black Midi have offered to date. Their captivatingly awkward, math-y noise rock is incomparable, centred around a semi-screeched vocal and a drummer whose stick-slapping has to be seen to be believed. “Best band I’ve heard in a while, Jesus Christ” states the top comment on the session.
Numerous other live videos have popped up on YouTube, from clips of gigs in Paris to full live sets from Brixton new band mecca The Windmill, with the comments awash with praise. One such video has over 3,500 views already – not bad for a band without a social media presence to speak of, or a single track out there to draw in a fanbase. Half of their tracks don’t even have titles – though ‘Ducter’ seems to be one that’s stuck, itself a 10-minute epic that stretches through a siren-esque guitar line, a crashing almost-post-rock build, and an industrial explosion that could level even a Death Grips show. Boundaries and expectation are dirty words to this lot.
So who exactly are Black Midi? At this point, it’s impossible to tell. Their Facebook gives nothing away, and their gigs are tight-lipped affairs, the band simply turning up, plugging in, and blasting out their fucked up noise, before scarpering. What’s for certain is that they’re building something truly captivating – a word-of-mouth buzz that’s impossible to ignore, and a sound that’s so fresh and out-of-place it feels positively otherworldly. Their every secretive move seems geared towards drawing people to their live show, and given their appearances this weekend, it’s clear why they’d do so. “Best band in London”? Given time, they might just be the best in the whole country.