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
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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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