black midi review, Cavalcade: Experimental band dole out neck-snapping left turns on new album

The British group continue in their tradition of no-holds-barred musical exploration

Annabel Nugent
Thursday 27 May 2021 15:54 BST
black midi band members Cameron Picton, Geordie Greep and Morgan Simpson
black midi band members Cameron Picton, Geordie Greep and Morgan Simpson (Anthrox Studio)

On first listen, Cavalcade sounds like a mixtape of multiple bands. But those familiar with black midi will know dissonance is just part and parcel of their music. The Brit School-educated group’s second album is as amorphous and elastic as you’d expect from a front-runner in the wave of post-whatever experimental British bands to have emerged over the last few years.

Since the release of their Mercury-nominated debut album Schlagenheim in 2019, black midi have made experimentation their calling card. No doubt Cavalcade is an extension of that. A lot of the time, the record is a disorienting maelstrom of noise – squawking violins, assaulting vocals, soulful basslines, deranged guitar riffs. Other times it screeches to a halt, teasing out tension with a scolding silence you’re not sure when will end.

Elsewhere, as on “Diamond Stuff”, the racket gives reprieve to softer, more palatable acoustics. black midi relish in doling out neck-snapping transitions (like the one between the volatile “John L” and the shockingly strait-laced ballad “Marlene Dietrich”) across the album’s 40 minutes.

As is customary for experimental bands of their kind, on Cavalcade, black midi feast on a smorgasbord of influences but the result at times can leave their sound meandering aimlessly.

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