black midi announce new album ‘Cavalcade,’ share bananas “John L” video
Following the release of their excellent debut album, Schlagenheim (2019), London experimental noise rock group black midi received a massive amount of praise for their abrasive sonic landscapes and seamless genre-morphing. Now, the group are back with Cavalcade that's due May 28 via Rough Trade, and have shared its first single "John L" that takes what they do best and amplifies it ten-fold.
The record's debut track — which was crafted with the help of Jerskin Fendrix on violin — unfolds with picturesque imagery, describing "the scene on Main Street when John L comes to town" wherein townsfolk bow their heads in their king's presence, totally powerless and subservient. Vocalist/guitarist Geordie Greep details the story in his gravelly, deep-seated drawl, painting a visual of the hellish dynamic between John L, an almost cult leader weaving webs of mass destruction, and his people: "In all the world, there's no escape from this infernal din," he deadpans.
The track's wild accompanying music video does a wonderful job of visualizing the tale as it unfolds, and was directed by choreographer Nina McNeely whose credits include Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer” video and Gaspar Noe’s Climax. It's a frenzy of color, with dancers bowing to a God-like figure that recalls Illuminati-associated Eye of Providence and Lord of the Rings' Tower of Sauron and the song's story progresses, .
Cavalcade is said to travel along similar storylines as this opening track, accompanying larger-than-life tales of ancient deities and powerful dictators with brash instrumental mayhem. "When you're listening, you can imagine all the characters form a sort of cavalcade," says bassist Cameron Picton. "Each tells their story one by one and as each track ends, they overtake you, replaced by the next line."
Geordie continues, "It's easy to get wrapped up in the improvisation myth of divine intervention, that if a song doesn't happen in the room naturally without it being guided by someone specifically, when we're all just feeling the vibe, then it's not proper and it's not pure. That's kind of a dangerous thing because you end up never trying something different, or you just abandon an idea if it doesn't work out at first, because you're always waiting for that thing to arrive perfect."
The album was made with producer Marta Salogni and John 'Spud' Murphy at Hellfire Studios in Dublin. "It worked really well with John. We wanted a natural, open sound combined with fourth wall breaks — for lack of a better expression," Geordie continued. "Do you know on the record when you can hear the tape screeching, the things that make you aware that you're listening to a recording? [With a lot of records] it feels like either you're listening to ECM, high-fidelity, 25 mic amazing sound or you have the lo-fi album full of crazy effects. And I thought, 'Why not have an album where you combine the two?'"
You can pre-order Cavalcade now. Watch the "John L" video, and check out the album's artwork and tracklist, below.
1. John L
2. Marlene Dietrich
3. Chondromalacia Patella
5. Diamond Stuff
7. Hogwash and Balderdash
8. Ascending Forth