Black Marble - I Must Be Living Twice EP Music Album Reviews

The synth-pop soloist recaptures the moody appeal of his earliest releases on this low-stakes collection of covers.

Black Marble has flourished by returning repeatedly to the sacred well of synth-pop. It’s Immaterial, the 2016 second album from Chris Stewart’s duo-turned-solo-project, drank deep from all-timers like New Order and footnotes like Iron Curtain, securing a place in the canon by excelling within established standards: vintage synths, melodic basslines, liberal reverb, melancholic undertones. Last year’s Bigger Than Life, though, did little to advance on that template except by cleaning it up, rendering Stewart’s music sparkly and bright without developing his songwriting accordingly.
Seeming to sense that something went awry, Stewart attempts a reset with I Must Be Living Twice, a new all-covers EP. Some of the covers, which include songs by Wire, Grouper, and Lives of Angels, are Black Marble live staples, and Stewart has said that the EP exists mainly to get his versions onto tape. Despite the low stakes, or perhaps because of them, I Must Be Living Twice sounds like Black Marble rewiring itself back to what worked in the middle of the decade. Its lo-fi approach infuses the covers with the familiar charm of his early albums, making the EP a satisfying release, if a minor one.

Most of the tracks fit neatly within the Black Marble sound. Stewart adds fluttering arpeggiated synths to “Johnny and Mary,” Robert Palmer’s 1980 synth-pop classic, but largely echoes Palmer’s plaintive vocal performance. His approach is less distinct than that of Todd Terje and Bryan Ferry, who put their sublime twist on “Johnny and Mary” six years ago, slowing the tempo to a crawl, with Ferry’s decadent rasp making Palmer sound upbeat by comparison. Still, there’s room for all three versions: Palmer’s original is for the club, Terje and Ferry’s cover is for the bedroom, and Black Marble’s take is for the wistful loner, staring out the window at sheets of rain.

Other choices are more questionable. It’s a fool’s errand to cover “Emma’s House,” The Field Mice’s debut single, an already-perfect twee-pop anthem. Stewart, with a toylike synth patch subbing in for the original’s acoustic guitar, creates an even quainter version of a song that embodies the bookish introspection of the Sarah Records and C86 sound. A softer, twinklier take on “Emma’s House” seems beyond parody; it already requires a knitted sweater and a piping hot cup of Earl Grey for full enjoyment.

The first few years of Black Marble were special thanks to Stewart’s ability to transcend artifice and goth posturing with fantastic hooks and inventive arrangements. Though he’s not working with original compositions here, he does seem to have regained his sense of the sonics that complement his music best. There’s nothing revolutionary or essential about this collection of mostly safe crowd-pleasers. But as Stewart reloads before the next album cycle, those enraptured by Black Marble’s moody soundscapes will enjoy his return to form.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Black Marble - I Must Be Living Twice EP Music Album Reviews Black Marble - I Must Be Living Twice EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, August 24, 2020 Rating:

0 comments:

Post a Comment