Well crafted chaos underpins the entirety of the excellent sophomore record from Black Midi, where forty-two minutes of genre-bending madness cements the band as the UK’s most exciting act. Once again, this release reinforces the undeniable fact that the Windmill Brixton is the beating heart of a new wave of British rock music. However, to condense Cavalcade down to simply a ‘rock’ album is to entirely strip away the nuance of the album itself – the tracks here take the listener through combinations of thrash, soul, gospel, folk and electronica. It’s a Long Island Ice Tea, double shots all round and the after-effects as the record concludes aren’t too dissimilar to those experienced after a particularly heavy night.
Where Schlagenheim felt loose and reactionary, Cavalcade exemplifies the creativity a band finds when given the chance to experiment and push themselves. From the rapid snares of ‘John L’ to the orgastic climax of ‘Ascending Forth’, Black Midi flex all the chops, bringing the listener a constant sense of novelty. It’s not too far from the mid-career experimentation of David Bowie, whose influence (particularly on vocalist Geordie Greep) is clear across the album’s nine tracks. Particularly it’s Bowie’s lack of care for any desire to be pigeonholed and Black Midi find themselves in a healthy tradition of genre-smashing, most prevalent on the wonderful ‘Chondromalacia Patella’, a song as hard to pronounce as it is to place in any set ‘sound’.
But this is the way that our country’s young bands are going. Where the bands of days past were restricted in their musical discoveries by the records, tapes and CDs they could get their hands on, bands now find every possible sound at their fingertips. It was inevitable that music would start to distance itself from ‘playing to a set sound’. Rather, it is now how far a band can push themselves to wed together their late-night Spotify playlists into something that ‘makes sense’.
Black Midi’s Cavalcade is something that simply has to be listened to in order to understand it and even then, it may cause you confusion, but in that sense of unease is beauty.
Cavalcade is out now on Rough Trade Records – order on vinyl, CD or digital download via Bandcamp.
Find out more on Black Midi’s official website.
Review by Alexander Sarychkin