black midi Schlagenheim

[Rough Trade; 2019]

Styles: post-math-punk-jazz-rock-core
Others: Tera Melos, Pere Ubu, Don Caballero

Katamari Damacy is a video game about replenishing the cosmos by rolling a sticky ball — a katamari — all over the planet, gathering objects along the way until the katamari is a hulking mass that can suck up buildings, streets, even lifeform. In effect, if you are caught by the Katamari, you have reached the event horizon unless shaken by a similarly large body; no amount of gravitational force can pull you out. black midi have a similar omnivorous effect, but instead of corporeal objects, it’s bands and particular influences. It might be lazy to describe their music through their influences, but for this four-piece, there’s a nigh impossibility of not comparing them to a particular 80s post-punk group or 2000s math rock outfit, whichever comes to mind first.

The following is a list of artists that came to mind while listening to Schlagenheim: Pavement, Polvo, Hella, Tera Melos, Alt-J, The Pyramids, Muse, This Heat, The Fall, White Lung, Pere Ubu, 13th Floor Elevators, Don Caballero, Idles, Liars, NEU!, Daughters, Deerhoof, Wire, Battles — you get the picture. black midi will get the usual targeting of any Rate Your Music aficionado for their undeniable usage of copy and paste (filtered through Photoshop), but the craft and unpredictably oozes off the record. Schlagenheim is about the riffs, that indelible meat of guitar rock. All of the members excel to this end, but Morgan Simpson’s ludicrously excellent drumming sticks out. You can tell the man’s a prodigy; he is the heart and soul of black midi, and what seals their contained universe tightly shut before bursting open uncontrollably.

One of the more interesting tidbits of Schlagenheim is that it was produced by Dan Carey, most known for his work with Franz Ferdinand, Sia, and Fatboy Slim. Judging by the premier clientele, it would be assumed black midi is similarly polished, and you’d be correct in some ways. Carey’s presence acts as a stabilizer of the band’s most explosive impulses, collecting the fission and synthesizing it in every track. The odd couple works through this vein, combining the major label production more associated with one Bombay Bicycle Club and evening it out alongside a healthy smattering of jam-session entropy. Instead of quiet-loud, it’s messy hi-fi.

Ultimately, the music reflects the total package that black midi are producing. Consider the cover by David Rudnick, a design wunderkind who’s collaborated with Oneohtrix Point Never, Nicolas Jaar, and Evian Christ. The kitchen-sink mentality lays itself out in front of our very own eyes, symbiotic metalworks mutating and taking on new forms. It’s the sinister Katamari Keita Takahashi never wanted made flesh. Fascinatingly, black midi have become a buzzband. That term might be an oxymoron in an era wherein Hipster Runoff is long dead (RIP) and major labels have all but ixnayed the indie-act push, yet their media hype is startlingly real. And it’s fitting too: black midi aim to dazzle and perform, and with Schlagenheim, their mammoth ideations never cease to thrill, the product of a boundless creative spirit and unwavering technicality.

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