- 13 Mar 19
At the ‘Just Another Manic Monday’ at Mohawk, Hot Press went to discover the South London four-piece shrouded in secrecy and experience whether or not they’re the best live act in the UK.
Black Midi is like a Jackson Pollack painting. Viewed in isolation, it’s mislabeled as chaos, yet allow yourself to be lost in its presence and the layers peel back to reveal true craftsmanship.
Their live shows have an unconscious flow. The quartet’s energy dips from meek to murderous during each song. Abstract singing duties bounce between Geordie Greep (vocals/guitar), Cameron Picton (bass/vocals) and Matt Kelvin (lead guitar/vocals).
The slight frame of Greep sporadically whirls around his canvas, conjuring crashing guitar distortion, dribbled with frenetic vocal squawks. At times, it sounds like he is channelling his inner ‘Oh Long Johnson’. Though, pitch-perfect vocals aren’t a concern for the band as Georgie told L&Q; “I’d rather do something poorly that’s at least unique.”
Much like Pollack’s ‘Lavender Mist’ painting, there’s no obvious part of a Black Midi song to focus on. No catchy hook. No poppy repetition. The group’s playing style is a serrated drip technique. A dollop of drums, a splash of guitars, a spattering of samples, and a drizzling of vocals.
The band’s centrepiece is drummer Morgan Simpson. His magnetism radiates from the back of the stage. Morgan’s fluidity is built upon a pin-point technique that meanders through funk and rock styles. He shifts patterns of play and speed to bring depth to tracks.
Like the immediacy of Pollack’s upright technique, Black Midi went to the studio to record their first release, ‘bmbmbm’ (pronounced bomb bomb bomb) in one day. This no-frills approach to recording allows them not to get bogged down in finding their niche.
Their indifference to conformity is evident. The group’s sparse social media presence adds to their mystic. Instagram clips of band members chucking bowling balls, watching MOTD and performing Spiderman acrobatics are deleted soon after being posted. Although rather than it being a planned marketing strategy, it more accurately reflects the band’s true personality, which is shy and quiet.
Black Midi has managed to construct an authentic identity in a London music scene chock full of some of the most talented bands in the British Isles. They’re one of the most interesting emerging acts around. Go see them while you can because as Greep warned L&Q, “In two years, Black Midi’s music will be unrecognisable compared to what it is today.”