Black Midi - Live Fire Music Album Reviews

Black Midi - Live Fire Music Album Reviews
With a low-stakes live album, the English art-rock band showcases the playfulness that runs through even their most elaborate work. 

Black midi don’t jam as much as they used to. The London art-rock band assembled its 2019 debut in part by editing extended improvisations, but with 2021’s Cavalcade, they began composing from the top down, and their music has only grown more precisely arranged since then. This year’s Hellfire features the longest tracklist and shortest runtime of their catalog so far, its skronky maelstroms and baroque characters whipped up and dispelled in brisk strokes. Live Fire, recorded at NOS Primavera Sound festival in Portugal, cements that album’s orchestrated mayhem as the band’s new foundation, but is looser and more playful than its studio companion, foregrounding the inherent goofiness of their madcap style. 

Backed by keyboardist Seth “Shank” Evans, a session musician from Cavalcade and Hellfire who has become a fixture of black midi’s gigs, the band spends the 11-song set condensing and rewiring their music. They don’t call attention to their alterations, but the songs constantly fray and braid back together in exciting ways. “Sugar/Tzu,” Hellfire’s metal operetta about a murder during a heavyweight boxing match, rattles like a speedbag as Shank and drummer Morgan Simpson ratchet up the tempo, its calmer sections snapping into focus when the relentless pace breaks. For the live version of “John L,” the bristling prog opener of Cavalcade, they play so fast that the sounds seem to tumble forward even during the silences between riffs. 

Guitarist Geordie Greep’s archfiend voice, a truly distinct timbre that can evoke a goblin newscaster or an auctioneer on Adderall, often seemed detached from its wild milieus of noise and texture on Hellfire. That sense of distance between his narration and the rest of the music could sometimes make the songs feel like sneering celebrations of a burning world rather than explorations of it. Live, he eases up on the bit. His singing throughout Live Fire is warm and gallant, inflected with giddy lilts and maudlin croons that place him within the hyperactive music rather than above it.

Bassist and fellow vocalist Cameron Picton, typically the straight man to Greep’s ringmaster, also changes tack. He adopts a curdled growl on “Eat Men Eat,” making the song’s manic ship captain character sound even more unhinged. On “Speedway,” which Shank’s filigreed melodies turn into a bubbly jazz fusion number, Picton deviates from the lyrics to sing about slicing his finger while cutting manchego cheese. These tweaks are impish and silly, but also affecting. The characters feel become warm-blooded people rather than the writerly muses they can seem to be on the studio albums.

“Lumps,” the set’s sole’s new song, marks a subtle but significant departure. After Greep scolds the band to “slow down,” they settle into a breezy groove that swings more than it shocks. Any one of the elements here—like Simpson’s dynamite drum fills, or Shank’s elegant vamping— might have sent a previous black midi composition spiraling in some unforeseen new direction, but this time they stay the course. For once, they seem bored of being restless. 
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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 Midi - Live Fire Music Album Reviews Black Midi - Live Fire Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 30, 2022 Rating: 5


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