Unexpected. Anxious. Soothing. Austere. Poppy. Psychotic.
These are the first of many unrelated adjectives that flood your brain when you listen to London’s black midi. The quartet, all of whom are under 21, have little to say about where they’ve come from or what their point may be. They carry their audiences through swells of melodic passages, jazzy drumming and delightfully strange vocals that inevitably crash into a world of utter lunacy and terrifying dissonance. Noisy though they may be, they are precise to the point of fastidiousness, and creepy, with a daunting amount of self-control. Their myriad, opposing forces melt together in mind-blowing ways, coming off as a lyrically less intricate, heavy metal Talking Heads.
Comparisons really do black midi no justice, that said. And who really cares what most bands have to say? They are on a plane of their own bizarre, panicked creation, and it’s been a terribly long time since something this refreshingly insane has hit the scene. And as black midi shatters the stifling, if not vapid glass ceiling of their indie music peers, they breath new life into not only today’s atmosphere, but have laid new ground for the future by simply torching all expectations to the ground.
Their new single, “Crow’s Perch” (out via Rough Trade) takes its name in reference to the video game Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The accompanying video, directed by 17-year-old Vilhjálmur Yngvi Hjálmarsson (aka susan_creamcheese), reflects the frenetic energy of the song to the point where it can nearly be seen in plain sight with your eyes closed. Hyper, neon flashes punctuate montages of mundane, quotidian life teapots and bathroom tiles, amounting to another chapter of insanity that only black midi can create, as we anxiously await whatever they manage to cook up next.
They were arguably the most anticipated band at this year’s SXSW Festival, and that’s for good reason. Their burn is masterfully slow, and they put on one hell of a show. Already having sold out their first-ever, upcoming NYC dates, they are also making an appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer – but not before they kick off their European tour next month. Miss them at your own cultural peril.