black Midi announce new album ‘Hellfire’, share new single

 Photo by Atiba Jefferson

black midi have today announced Hellfire, their third album set to be released on July 15th via Rough Trade Records. Pre-order here. The announcement also comes alongside the release of “Welcome To Hell” and accompanying music video which tells the story of a shell shocked soldier’s excess and military discharge. The new album was produced by Marta Salogni who produced “John L” from the bands 2021 album Cavalcade.

Listen to the new single below!

Speaking about the new track Geordie Greep said:

Almost everyone depicted is a kind of scumbag. Almost everything I write is from a true thing, something I experienced and exaggerated and wrote down. I don’t believe in Hell, but all that old world folly is great for songs, I’ve always loved movies and anything else with a depiction of Hell. Dante’s Inferno. When Homer goes to Hell in the Simpsons. There’s a robot Hell in Futurama. Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Jewish writer who portrays a Satan interfering in people’s lives. There’s loads!

A press release said about the album:

Whereas the stories of Cavalcade were told in third person, Hellfire is presented in first-person and tells the tales of morally suspect characters. There are direct dramatic monologues, flamboyantly appealing to our degraded sense of right and wrong. You’re never quite sure whether to laugh at or be horrified.

Hellfire Tracklist

1. Hellfire

2. Sugar/Tzu

3. Eat Men Eat

4. Welcome To Hell

5. Still  

6. The Race Is About To Begin

7. Dangerous Liaisons 

8. The Defence

9. 27 Questions

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Wide Awake Festival, Brockwell Park -3/9/21 -Live Review

Photo by Max Styles

I’ve been to a fair few open air festivals in London before, some great and others not so much. Brockwell Park is a gorgeous location for a comeback day gig, situated just outside of Brixton station and brimming with lush vegetation. The lineup for Wide Awake was announced pre COVID back in 2019 when all we had to worry about was the tories getting back into power. Despite the bill being fairly different to the one initially announced, having The Windmill represent the main stage was a welcomed addition as well as being fairly surreal given how tiny that venue is. At this point however, I think it’s hard to be fussy when we’ll take anything over spending another 18 months watching Netflix, wanking and drinking ourselves to oblivion in our rooms.

Arguably the biggest guitar band in the country as of 2021, IDLES opened the main stage to a hungry audience, as push pits and bodies galore bopped to the likes of “Heel/Heal”, “Never Fight A Man With A Perm” and “Model Village’. The latter of which vocalist Joe Talbot had to explain what the song was about as apparently certain nerds online couldn’t seem to understand. As a band who’ve faced backlash for not being working class enough or apparently ‘appropriate’ punk culture, none of those factors mattered here as a wholesome lunchtime mosh was had by all. The brief Oasis cover was a tad cringey but that’s just my bias for hating anything to do with that band. Thankfully they redeemed themselves by closing on “Rottweiler”.

The plan was to see Porridge Radio afterwards, but finding the stage proved to be too cumbersome, it was bloody boiling, and we’d already missed half their set wandering around, so we opted to stay where we were. 

As my editor (James) pointed out, having IDLES on early as they drove down the M4 to headline in their hometown meant that it allowed other adjacent bands in their scene to have a bigger audience than usual. That being said, Brighton’s Squid’s were polarising to say the least. I’m usually a big fan of bands that have their drummer be the foreperson of a band, with Ollie Judge’s cynical observations and shrieks filling out the field coupled by Squid’s craft of song build ups. However, with only “Peel Street” and “Narrator” showcased from their latest album, along with even more new material sandwiched in between their older hits, a fair few audience members walked away midway through their set, and those who stayed were not quite sure what to make of things. 

Heading over to the So Young tent, a sizeable audience clambers in for Preston via London’s White Flowers. A dreamy three piece with tunes reminiscent of early Beach House, with gorgeous textures and floaty vocals. A sea of dads and Goldsmiths University types reacted well to the hazy instrumentation, albeit with some odd headbanging. James said his ears hurt because the bass drum was inexplicably the loudest thing on stage during their set. In his defence, he was being very brave about it. 

Back over to the Windmill main stage again, PVA’s glistening electronic musings make a nice break from the death by post punk mission that seems to be on Wide Awake’s agenda for today. Exploding one moment into a cacophony of noise to a gentle lul in the next, the dance group’s use of layers create a vibe that brings out the natural hit serotonin in the middle of the day we’d all been craving. 

Photo by Max Styles

Given the Sonic Youth comparisons made about Dry Cleaning, I was stoked to finally check them out, however we opted to go see Goat Girl on the mainstage instead as meeting up later may have been a bit difficult. There’s only so many times you can say ‘I’m by this tent’ and lose your mates entirely so it wouldn’t have been worth it. The South London ensemble, along with an extra violinist were unexpectedly drowned out by the quiet mix on stage, and crowds of people talking loudly to their mates over some of the slower jams ruined the atmosphere for me. It goes to show that some artists aren’t as effective on outdoor stages as they are in packed tents, and unfortunately this was absolutely the case here.

A nice surprise came from art punk weirdos Snapped Ankles, strutting their stuff at the Moth Club tent and bringing the weird vibes to us in the afternoon. You can’t quite put your finger on why they’re so enjoyable to watch, but their woodland aesthetic, blistering keyboards and genre blending madness makes them hard to not absolutely lose your shit to. If those watching Goat Girl looked too cool to be there or give a shit about any of the bands, the audience for Snapped Ankles is the complete opposite of that, with fans shamelessly throwing their mates across the tent, dragging strangers into the fold too.

With the sun gradually going down, Black Country, New Road treat us once again with the crowd warming playfulness of “Instrumental”, as a sea of gun fingers and men in bucket hats on shoulders dance their backs off. For every delicate introspective moment from newer cuts like “Goodwill Hunting” and “The Place Where He Inserted The Knife”, a sea of bodies bounce in unison for “Opus.” It’s surreal to witness a band who once could barely fit on the same stage together have such a visceral reaction from the crowd. 

Earlier that week, Black Midi announced that a string of shows had to be cancelled due to frontman Geordie Greep’s doctor advising him not to play following a throat infection. It was a nice surprise to see that not only did BM commit to their Brockwell Park set, but Greep was still as unhinged and bombastic as ever. He even managed to fit in a play scuffle on stage whilst bassist Cameron Pitcon seduced us with “Still” a country flavoured ditty on banjo. With some assistance from BCNR, the post punk giants combined forces together to deliver a truly memorable performance, never being able to sit still for too long before overloading our senses. Artists that are this unconventional and eccentric never usually achieve this level of success past a niche audience, but with both groups being nominated for Mercury prizes and playing bigger venues with each year, it seems like nothing can stop these incredibly talented people with so much potential.

If anyone deserves the first prize medal for today however, it was always going to be Shame. Frontman Charlie Steen points out that all the members had been going to Brockwell Park since they were kids, I can only imagine how euphoric it must have felt for them to headline a festival in their childhood playing fields, 10 years later despite the world still undergoing a pandemic. Tracks like “6/1” and “Nigel Hitter” are played ever so slightly faster than their recorded counterparts, but that tempo change makes all the difference. Drummer Charlie Forbes channels Steven Morris with his extremely tight drum fills, never missing a beat and adding an extra layer of ferocity into the fold. Steen has the crowd at his mercy, as circle pits and crowd surfers galore amalgamate into a whirlwind of chaotic energy. Blending newer tracks from Drunk Tank Pink with older cuts from Songs Of Praise, the moodiness of their stage presence was balanced with pure aggression. Ending on the cinematic turned cacophonic “Station Wagon”, the existential nature of the final lyrics “Won’t someone please bring me that cloud, move that cloud, join us on planet Cluj” encapsulate a true sense of unity that Wide Awake managed to accomplish today. 

Photos by Tia Bryant / Max Styles / James Pearson

black midi release new single “Slow”

Image by Anthrox Studio

black midi have today shared new single “Slow”, the second single from their upcoming album Cavalcade, set to be released on May 28th via Rough Trade Records. This follows on from “John L” which was released last month.

The new single is as menacing as it is intricate. Moving through jazz infused passages that feel like they’re trying to explode at every moment. Eventually divulging into an ominous and eerily cathartic rage out that exuberates an untold amount of serial killer energy.

Listen to the new single below!

black midi announce new album ‘Cavalcade’, share new single “John L”

Artwork by Anthrox Studio

black midi have announced Cavalcade, their new album out May 28th on Rough Tradeand today offer its lead single/video, “John L.” Pre-order here.

Cavalcade is a dynamic, hellacious, and inventive follow-up to 2019’s widely-praised Schlagenheim. It scales beautiful new heights, pulling widely from a plethora of genres and influences, reaching ever upwards from an already lofty base of early achievements. black midi — Geordie Greep (guitar, primary vocals), Cameron Picton (bass, vocals), and Morgan Simpson (drums) — picture Cavalcade as a line of larger than life figures, from a cult leader fallen on hard times and an ancient corpse found in a diamond mine to legendary cabaret singer Marlene Dietrich, strolling seductively past them.

When you’re listening, you can imagine all the characters form a sort of cavalcade. Each tells their story one by one and as each track ends they overtake you, replaced by the next in line,” comments Picton.

Album opener “John L,” available for 12” pre-order today with b side “Despair,”  has a massive sound, driven by some gutsy Discipline-era King Crimson thrust, and energy wrought by the inclusion of Jerskin Fendrix on violin. The group tease the raging track to the point of nonexistence before leading it through caverns of reverb and gauzy snareskin landscapes, just for it to return, hitting hard as hell once more. The story painted is a jet black comedy about what happens to cult leaders when their followers turn on them. Its equally massive video was directed by choreographer Nina McNeely, known for her work on Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer” and Gaspar Noe’s Climax

Listen to the new single below.

The groundwork for Cavalcade was laid in 2019 — musical sketches that had been brewing since the release of Schlagenheim began muscling their way into black midi set lists and finally became individual entities. But with this album, there was a “yearning” to be more considered and record something that was more harmonically interesting and challenging.

 “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the improvisation myth of divine intervention, that if a song doesn’t happen in the room naturally without it being guided by someone specifically, when we’re all just feeling the vibe, then it’s not proper and it’s not pure,” says Greep. “That’s kind of a dangerous thing because you end up never trying something different, or you just abandon an idea if it doesn’t work at first because you’re always waiting for that thing to arrive perfect.”

With this new approach in mind, half of Cavalcade was written by individual members at home and brought to the table in rehearsal. Simpson confirms it was to their advantage:“The experience this time round was completely the flipside to Schlagenheim. A lot of the material was really fresh but that was something that played into our hands and we relished it.”

After initially recording “John L” with producer Marta Salogni in London, the band found themselves in the aptly named Hellfire Studios, in the Dublin mountains, in summer 2020 under the eye of John ‘Spud’ Murphy. Geordie comments:

It worked really well with John. We wanted a natural, open sound combined with fourth wall breaks – for lack of a better expression. Do you know on record when you can hear the tape screeching, the things that make you aware that you’re listening to a recording? [With a lot of records] it feels like either you’re listening to the ECM, high-fidelity, 25 mic amazing sound or you have the lo-fi album full of crazy effects. And I thought, ‘Why not have an album where you combine the two?’ That was one of the main ideas going into it and John was very keen on that idea.” 

With original band member guitarist/vocalist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin taking time away from the group to focus on his mental health, black midi chose to augment their sound on Cavalcade, rather than replicate it, with saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi and keyboard player Seth Evans.

Last week, indie retailers collectively curated a list of 10 songs for black midi to consider for a cover. Beginning today through March 25th, fans can vote for their favourite potential cover on black midi’s website. There will be 5 uniquely curated polls, resulting in 5 unique flexi disc options; one each for US indies, UK indies, Tower Records in Japan, Rough Trade Shops and International. A limited amount of standard album pre-orders will come with the market-specific flexi.

black midi will be performing live at Alexandra Palace Theatre on Nov 11th.  Tickets will be on pre-sale from 31st March and General Sale from 1st April.

Cavalcade Tracklist

1. John L

2. Marlene Dietrich

3. Chondromalcia Patella

4. Slow

5. Diamond Stuff

6. Dethroned

7. Hogwash and Balderdash

8. Ascending Forth

PVA release ‘Talks (Remixs II)’

Photo by Lewis Khan

PVA return with the release of two new remixes of their critically acclaimed single “Talks”. The remixes come from black midi’s DJ Dairy and Squid’s INK, and follow the band’s debut EP “Toner” which was released in late November via Ninja Tune imprint Big Dada. Revisit our review of the EP here.

Speaking about his remix DJ Dairy says, 

“This remix was super fun to make and a great relief from the boredom and stress of the first lockdown last April, the original bangs absolutely and hopefully this does it justice!”

Squid’s Laurie Nankivell also commented on the INK remix saying,

“We started this just before the UK went into its first lockdown and as a result our creative process became scattered from one house to two computers. This remix is representative of that alongside a pining for the lack of a good boogy we were about to endure!”

Listen to the new remixes below.