Any time a band is introduced as “mysterious,” boasting “minimal online presence” and a “came out of nowhere” backstory, my bullshit detector goes off. Either this is marketing smoke and mirrors, possibly designed to obscure sketchy information somebody is embarrassed over (ahem, Superorganism), or it’s an honest description of an impossibly lazy and stuck-in-the-past artist who happens to be privileged enough to have influential connections in their corner (looking at you, Parquet Courts).
I don’t bring this up to suggest that London’s Black Midi are themselves bullshit, or sketchy, or stuck-in-the-past, but more to explain my initial skepticism when I read the description on R5 Productions’ announcement of their upcoming gig at PhilaMOCA. Their debut 7″ single sold out “almost instantly”…but, like, 250 copies is not a lot. They’re on an indie label run by a guy named Dan Carey who, by the way, happens to be a record producer who has worked on songs (hits and otherwise) by Django Django, Bat For Lashes, Sia, and was producer and co-writer of Kylie Minogue’s 2003 banger “Slow” — which in and of itself would make a statue of him in the foyer of some London club not inappropriate — all of which is to say, “indie” is relative and this guy backing these upstart artists probably goes a long way.
The bigger question here: so what? Why does any of this matter? Is the music any good? And having not been fortunate enough to travel and see them in person at Windmill Brixton or Iceland Airwaves, we really only have two songs to evaluate and answer this query: Black Midi’s debut single, a chugging piece of wiry experimental guitar rock called “bmbmbm” that builds from a tense power chord rhythm to a cutting vocal howl, and their synth-oriented new “speedway,” which landed in my news feed yesterday (almost concurrent with the show announcement) care of The Quietus. Continue reading →