“All I gotta say is... black midi, I wish you luck.” (reedy, Bright Green Field review, May 7, 2021.)
Well they got good luck.
Cavalcade is an album I have been highly anticipating this year, especially over the past 2 months. In March, I listened to Schlangenheim for the first time, and I was immediately floored by it’s energetic nature and unique, hard hitting style. However, I listened to this the same day as John L came out, and man what a track. It’s spiraling descent into madness, insane grooves, and immaculate progression, made Cavalcade an album to look out for. As time went on, I continued listening to John L, until Slow came out, and it got me even more excited for the album, being my song of the year so far. I even bought tickets to see them in New York a few days after Slow released, and was able to snag some in the city. My anticipation continued to leap over anything else that came out in the near future, and now that it’s here, like Bright Green Field, Cavalcade is unexpected yet phenomenal. The album is able to sound completely different from the group’s debut, while still being able to have that signature black midi absurdity.
The album opens with the explosion of a track, John L. Although I touched apron it earlier, this track is an unbelievable opener and lead single. It’s able to black you into the jazzy, experimental, post punk mayhem that is completely blasted to the listener. The grooves on this thing are absolutely wild, and the progression of the track leaves me satisfied every single time. An excellent way to start Cavalcade, to which Marlene Dietrich comes next, starting an unexpected, gorgeous string of cuts throughout the listen. This track, well, is beautiful. It’s a gorgeously written and executed ballad, detailing someone who is in awe by the actress, making insane scenery and sonic landscapes along the way. The strings and drums combine to create a track that sort of feels like an ascent into heaven.
However, that ascend doesn’t last too long, as black midi blasts you back into the chaos with Chondromalacia Patella, a track actually inspired by a knee injury. Combined with its vivid and painful lyrics, sort of sounding like giving up, with an extremely talented singing voice, this track like many shows the vocal improvements of Geordie. Instrumentally, it’s another extremely chaotic and rewarding track, ending with a sweeping siren that blasts you into, in my opinion, the best track black midi has ever made.
Slow is to me, a perfect black midi song. The first thing I would like to talk about this monster is it’s progression, which even though I have discussed on multiple tracks before this one, oh man is this paced perfectly. The harsh, yet short beginning intensity perfectly sets up the reward, and you feel a sense of slow burn throughout the cut. Every time the intensity rams up in the choruses, it just continues the sheer perfection, ending with a climax so good that I get floored by it every single time. The lyrics ponder on patience and worry, as you are enveloped in a vision of waiting for disaster. Vocally, this is the first track that is sung by Cameron Picton, who adds some great variety, dread, and tone to the listen. I just can’t praise it enough. It’s definitely my song of the year so far.
After this burst of energy, you are left with Diamond Stuff, the most “not black midi” song black midi has made. It’s definitely a change of pace, going back to the relaxing feel of Marlene Dietrich, but it takes its ambience to a whole new level. The track starts with the triangle repeatedly ringing, as the background strings and subtle drums grow and grow. This track is also sung by Cameron, who’s soft delivery works extremely well with the sonical feel. And when the track hits, it hits. It definitely needs time to grow on the listener, but man it’s gorgeous. I think it’s one of the weaker cuts since it can drag on ever so slightly, but with headphones, the track is pure bliss. Up next, we have Dethroned, a track that also took a bit to grow on me. Unlike Diamond Stuff, this is the most “black midi song” black midi has created. It’s a great cut, being around the length of John L, even if there is not much to say about it. It’s just really good, even if I can see why some might call this weak since it sounds a little similar to their other work.
EDIT: Dethroned grew on me a ton.
The penultimate track, Hogwash & Balderdash, is the definition of short but sweet. Only clocking at a bit less than 3 minutes, this single cut is able to for one last time, throw its intensity at you. It just gets wilder and wilder and wilder until an extremely short clash of drums that halt. Even if it ends intensely, what comes next to me was a shocker. Ascending Forth is the closer, a 9 minute cut that sort of feels like a perfect way to finish Cavalcade. It combines the intense, crushing style with the more relaxed, ballad-like cuts, to create an unforgettable closer, that truly feels like slowly waving goodbye and accepting your fate into heaven. It’s emotional, powerful, gut-wrenching, and beautifully crafted, making it one of the best cuts in the album.
But yeah, what a fucking album. The boys have done it again to create an extremely consistent and quality release that is not dull whatsoever, that is definitely ahead their predecessor. If Schlangenheim was an album full of potential, even with how amazing it was, Cavalcade is that potential being executed, with so much variety, it’s just a beautiful joyride. This is basically tied with Bright Green Field as “post punk (if that counts” album of the year so far, as well as just the general best listens that 2021 has to offer for now. I’m so, SO excited to see them in New York, as heating this live must be an astonishing experience (I pre ordered the vinyl too!). But yeah, if Cavalcade isn’t proof on how phenomenal this group is, I mean, what are you on. Bravo, black midi.
Best tracks: EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
Least fav: nah I’m good
|1||John L / 97|
|2||Marlene Dietrich / 97|
|3||Chondromalacia Patella / 98|
|4||Slow / 100|
|5||Diamond Stuff / 96|
|6||Dethroned / 94|
|7||Hogwash and Balderdash / 95|
|8||Ascending Forth / 98|