Artist Profile Tuesday: black midi


black midi playing a festival

Joshua Berk, Arts and Entertainment

On November 9th, 2018 London rock band black midi burst onto the scene by playing five tracks from their upcoming album at the Iceland Airwaves music festival. Four of these songs were untitled at the time, the fifth was their only single at this time titled Bmbmbm. A band with one single and no back catalog is by no means a promising glimpse into the future of rock music, but what made this breakout band so special was their personalities. Distorted guitar riffs deafen listeners the moment the band picks up their instruments, leaving them to stare in awe at the band’s mesmerizing stage presence. Following an impressive display of rockabilly, every instrument drops to a hush and bassist Cameron Picton walks up to the mic. With a chilling voice, Picton sets the atmosphere until the wall of sound bursts back and his whispers explode into manic screams. The two guitar players Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin and Geordie Greep fire off guitar riffs at inhuman speed and each of them seems to spend the duration of their songs trying to step on or kick the beat. Every member of the band besides the drummer Morgan Simpson contributes vocals, but for what Simpson does not do in terms of singing he makes up for in musical excellency. Simpson is doing the drummers equivalent of a game of whack a mole as he pounds away with blistering speed on a drum kit that is holding on to dear life. Without a doubt, Morgan Simpson could hold his own against any of the best drummers in the 21st century. Each of the four members is extremely proficient in their instruments because they met at BRIT School, a performing arts school in London. Geordie Greep’s lead songs stand out above all others as he sings with the voice of a german mad scientist about “a woman with the teeth of a raven and the hands of a porcupine” on Of Schlagenheim, or ramble about a woman who moves with a purpose for the entirety of Bmbmbm. It would be hard to classify black midi as a single genre when their influences range from the New Wave titans Talking Heads to the king of jazz Miles Davis. While it may be hard to categorize the band, their sound can certainly be labeled as abrasive. black midi’s music is not for the faint of heart as they frequently try to make listeners feel uncomfortable by varying time signatures, tempos, and volume levels. From the poetic lyrics to the climactic musical interludes, black midi have a style that will leave most wondering just how exactly they think of this stuff. According to the band, the lyrics will be entirely decided by who is singing the song and the instrumentals are the product of several hour-long jam sessions. They take the final product from what the band calls “the danger zone.” The band describes this as when they have played for so long that they do not need to think about what they are making. If you missed the black midi train in 2019 then I can highly recommend caching it at the next stop.