Following months of mounting rumours, black midi have announced their second album: it’s called Cavalcade and arrives on May 28 through Rough Trade. For this record, they largely eschewed the improvisational genesis of their earlier work, instead building from ideas brought in by individual members; “The experience this time round was completely the flipside to Schlagenheim,” drummer Morgan Simpson says. “A lot of the material was really fresh but that was something that played into our hands and we relished it.”
Singer Geordie Greep says: “The emphasis when we were making and sequencing Cavalcade was to make music that was as dramatic and as exciting as possible.” While that could be true of pretty much any band making music, there’s no doubt that black midi have their own undeniable version of “dramatic and exciting,” which is evidenced by the new song and video “John L”.
While founding member and guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin is currently out of the band and focusing on his mental health, black midi have bolstered their lineup with saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi and keyboard player Seth Evans. The inclusion of sax on “John L” initially brings to mind their mates in Black Country, New Road, but it’s not long before their demented chug takes the song in completely unique directions. This is of course aided by Greep’s signature mumble singing, this time about ogres and eunuchs, creating a perfect foil to the erratic arabesques being played by the guitar and brass, which would easily topple into a pile of nonsense if not held together by the mighty force of Simpson on drums. It almost collapses anyway, as “John L” features many stop-starts, rumbles as if something massive is emerging from the ground (see the video), and increasingly manic violin and piano that seems to animate a nerve-shredding escape from said emerging monster. As ever, black midi are dancing wildly along the line of genius and insanity, and which side they end up on will be down to individual listeners, but to our ears it’s an undeniable thrill.
The video for “John L” by Nina McNeely takes the insanity levels up significantly by imagining the song as the soundtrack to an otherworldly ritual/ceremony – so we suggest you watch it below. Otherwise you can hear it on streaming platforms.
black midi’s new album Cavalcade is out on May 28 via Rough Trade (pre-order/save). “John L” is also being released on 7″ with a b-side called “Despair” (which you can hear on streaming platforms now) that’s not going to be on the album – order that here.