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BLACK MARBLE

Black Marble

Fast Idol

    On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.

    Melodies roll with the fizz and charm of Jacno and phrases repeated are electric torchlight ballads sung after hours in William Gibson’s San Francisco. ‘Somewhere’ opens in sombre herald, before dropping into a fast freeway tempo; the glassy synths and crisp beats cut through the anxious moods on ‘Bodies’ and ‘Try’ sits in a lineage with cult bands like Asylum Party. ‘The Garden’ is a journey through a post-apocalyptic cityscape, earthed by the pulse of a drum machine whereas ‘Ship To Shore’ could be a lost Oppenheimer Analysis B-side, and the album’s closer ‘Brighter and Bigger’ catches a sentiment like The Dadacomputer has learned to feel emotions. He captures the loneliness of Ray Bradbury’s atomic-era sci-fi and the apocalyptic but revolutionary spirit of Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil, as in ‘Preoccupation’, the beating heart of the album, which conjures ambivalent scenes of an empty world and the comfort to be found in a
    shared humanity.

    Emerging from the early 2000s New York synth scene, Black Marble carried on the tradition of early synthwave pioneers like Martin Dupont and Modern Art who repurposed synths once reserved for expensive studios and stadium rock superstars. Seeking to channel this spirit, Black Marble recalls the gauzy tape wow and flutter of The Membranes and the warbling VCO of Futurisk, carrying on a sound that seeks to channel the future while imprinting residue of the past.


    TRACK LISTING

    01. Somewhere
    02. Bodies
    03. Royal Walls
    04. Try
    05. The Garden
    06. Say It First
    07. Streetlight
    08. Ceiling
    09. Ship To Shore
    10. Preoccupation
    11. Brighter And Bigger

    Black Marble

    Bigger Than Life

      When Chris Stewart set out to write and record his third album as Black Marble, he was newly living in Los Angeles, fresh off a move from New York. The environment brought much excitement and possibility, but the distance had proved too much for the car he brought along. With it out of commission indefinitely, he purchased a bus pass and planned his daily commute from his Echo Park apartment to his downtown studio, where he began to shape Bigger Than Life. The route wound all through the city, from the small local shops of Echo Park to the rising glass of the business district, to the desperation of Skid Row. The hurried energy of the environment provided a backdrop for the daily trip. When Stewart finally arrived at his studio, he’d look through his window at the mountains and the sky, seeing the beauty that makes L.A. unique — the same beauty his fellow commuters, some pushed to the edge of human endurance, had seen. That was the headspace he was in when he began to map out the syncopated drums and staccato arpeggiation of Bigger Than Life, an ode to his new condition and a shimmering synth-pop response to its cacophony.

      “The album comes out of seeing and experiencing a lot of turmoil but wanting to create something positive out of it,” Stewart explains. “I wanted to take a less selfish approach on this record. Maybe I’m just getting older, but that approach starts to feel a little self-indulgent. So with this record, it’s less about how I see things and more about the way things just are. Seeing myself as a part of a lineage of people trying to do a little something instead of trying to create a platform for myself individually.”

      As with every Black Marble album, Stewart recorded, produced, and played everything you hear on Bigger Than Life using entirely analog gear, though the process was new. This time around, he wrote everything on his MPC and sequenced it live to his synths — only using the computer to record, not to create. “I try new approaches every time, which helps me stay engaged but also its kind of a trick I play on the creative side of my brain,” Stewart says. “Keeping one side of my mind busy on organizational creativity I think frees up the other side where the inspirational creativity comes from.”


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Never Tell
      2. One Eye Open
      3. Daily Driver
      4. Feels
      5. The Usual
      6. Grey Eyeliner
      7. Bigger Than Life
      8. Private Show
      9. Shoulder
      10. Hit Show
      11. Call 


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