Who: The young London quartet black midi basically came out of nowhere and built a super buzz leading up to this debut.
Sound: Post punk for a new generation with some extraordinary drumming and the ability to move through multiple genres on the turn of a dime.
TFN Final Take: The members of black midi are barley out of high school but sound light years older with the creative workings found on their debut Schlagenheim. Their youthfulness might be exactly what makes their post punk/math rock so ripe because while other beginning groups have a developed “sound,” based on influences, black midi have just jams without mapped direction, reflection or restriction. That non-conformity is what propels Schlagenheim to a higher level.
Opener “953” kicks this record off with a dose of noise for its first 50 seconds before quickly turning into a charging guitar and popping drum beat that will make you sweat just hearing it. Before you settle into that riff, black midi take it all the way down as the vocals of frontman Geordie Greep come in with an almost Jeff Buckley type delivery before it rips back open with a Helmet like rage that reminds me of their big track “Unsung” from 1992. All of this movement makes black midi stand out.
The rest of album plays out with exceptional transition after transition and Greep’s vocals now play more like Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, as he weaves in and out of these compositions. The tracks can be just over 2-mintues like “Near DT, MI” or over 8-minutes in “Western,” but regardless of time, black midi find places to stretch space and music. This is a band that sounds unique but you can hear plenty of other past noise manipulation groups like Rodan, Slint, and Boredoms plus there is a heaviness of Helmet or present-day Preoccupations and label mates Girl Band. Regardless of where you might think black midi have found these grooves, Schlagenheim is one of the more exciting releases this year because at this point in the game – it is really hard to surprise any listener. black midi does it in the first 50 seconds!
black midi Facebook
Rough Trade Records
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde