REVIEW: Black Midi – Schlagenheim

Perhaps I should have guessed from the very first few moments of Black Midi’s Schlagenheim that only people whose teenage years are still fresh in their memory could have produced this kind of energy, but I was just too absorbed in their frenzy. Opener “953” winds up unevenly to a (in the nicest possible sense) dirge of smashed instrumentation, offset occasionally by the singer’s tense homage to David Byrne’s vocal style.

Turning that word “dirge” away from the pejorative is perhaps this album’s greatest achievement, because travelling through it I fall more and more in love with shattered things. While less relentless overall than their obvious forebears Death Grips, Black Midi similarly twist and curl musical shapes through sounds that we spend our musical lives learning to disregard.

Listen to the synth sounds cutting through “Of Schlagenheim”, and tell me you’d be comfortable hearing it in any other context than this song.

Although “Bmbmbm” shows some rhythmic control for the most part, it quickly exchanges that control for lyrical chaos.

Make no mistake though: even this kind of frenzy is actually a nurtured exercise in restraint, as tiny jagged guitar strikes sit precisely within the melee.

It’s all truly fascinating and fresh. It’s more intriguing to me than Death Grips even, as it makes their unhinged sound move around something I might actually call a song.

All this revery came through long before I watched their KEXP performance, and could see that I had become obsessed with music by what I’ll patronizingly call “kids”.

Young or not, they are really teaching me something with this album. They are teaching me that I’m still young too, at least in my head.

Another Picky Bastard is constantly winding me up with comments about how I’m old and past it, implying I suppose that I’m not capable of keeping up with that ephemeral body, “The youth”.

He’s very wrong, and now I can finally prove it.


Words by Nick Parker.

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