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Black Midi - Schlagenheim - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €24.95

The London guitar band’s debut is twitchy, hair-raising, always on the move. They harken back to a more esoteric era of indie with a magnetic and dazzling style.

In January, KEXP uploaded a 26-minute video of four British kids positioned in a homey Icelandic hostel, stepping loosely and methodically through a handful of songs that now appear on black midi’s debut album, Schlagenheim. Two things are immediately apparent while watching: Everyone in black midi looks approximately 8 years old and their drummer is an absolute legend. The performance is hypnotic, hair-raising, maybe a little irritating, and definitely out of time—a bunch of schoolboys producing something so staunchly learned, freeform, and anti-pop in an age when pop reigns supreme.

Before black midi had even announced their album, the video was passed around like samizdat by people who watch drum tutorials online; older dudes who long for the days when prog bands like King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer ruled British rock; weirder sects who love the chaotic grooves of no wave bands like DNA or Mars; younger fans who glommed onto the post-punk sound of Preoccupations or Girl Band; guys who own Butthole Surfers records and sometimes play a Fantômas song when no one’s looking. The 323,000 views for this video comprise an underclass of music nerds who worship all things mathy, noisy, wiry, and aberrant. By the end, when we see guitarist Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin put his cell phone up to his guitar pickups and play a recording of a woman ranting ad nauseam, black midi have shown themselves a band so full of glorious potential (and pretension), the only thing people were left wondering was: What do they sound like in an actual studio? If the KEXP performance was the grabby cold open, six months later, Schlagenheim is the first act of a band that teeters on brilliance—a restless, nerve-wracking high wire act that could easily fall off at any moment.

Schlagenheim offers prime counter-programming for our current rich, harmonic, verse-chorus-verse era of indie music. With a froggy-voiced singer and an armful of guitar pedals, black midi sprint in the opposite direction. They are a band for whom references become the main talking point—a chilling thought for anyone who prefers not to think about music through the lens of dudes prattling on about other dudes in older bands. All the indie rock tropes of old are summoned: exclusion, referentiality, insularity, recalling a time in the ’80s and ’90s when the underground just covered each other all the time.

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