Black Midi – ‘Schlagenheim’ review

Score

There’s a raging fire at the core of Black Midi’s debut album, ‘Schlagenheim’. The heat can be felt right from the off, with opener ‘953’ revealing itself as a cacophony of noise that’s as searing as it gets. The rest of the album is a slippery, sprawling thing that’s both urgent and lithe – it perfectly captures Black Midi’s indefinable sound. There’s nothing quite like this at the moment

Comprised of Georgie Greep, Matt Kwasneiwski-Kelvin, Cameron Picton and Morgan Simpson, the London four-piece have soared since early live performances gathered excitable momentum last year. They signed to Rough Trade Records, ditched the usual press-interview cycle and will formally reveal the tracklist of the album on release date. They’re doing things their way.

Incorporating doodling pianos, accordions, reversed guitar riffs, synthesisers, and drum machines, ‘Schlagenheim’ blurs boundaries – you’re best entering this album without expectations. There are abstract lyrics (“a woman with the teeth of a raven and the hands of a porcupine”), jittery guitar riffs and a manic pace throughout. Schlagenheim is elusive, unpredictable and all the better for it.

Stand out track ‘bmbmbm’, for example, gathers momentum at an incredible pace, with danger lingering around it. Meanwhile, ‘Years Ago’ and ‘near DT, MI’ are short, trimmed bursts of creativity and noise: hard-hitting cymbals, rough and fast guitar riffs, slippery grooves. Over eight minutes, ’Western’, another sublime track and their longest, combines shoegaze tendencies with King Crimson-sized riffs.

Their many influences as well as their ability to play through genres with ease make it a record you’d be daft to try and categorise. Their determination to not bend to conventional song structure makes ‘Schlagenheim’ an engaging piece of work that will reveal its true nature over time, perhaps. Black Midi are making music like no other band in the world.

Details

Release date: June 21, 2019
Record label: Rough Trade