February 2nd | Crofters Rights
The front cover of Black Marble’s first album, 2012’s A Different Arrangement, featured an image of black and white static. The music within reflected this picture, a series of lo-fi, bleak, and ice cold pieces of synth-pop that revelled in making subtle moments of beauty out of pulsing electronic elements, driving bass, and tinny percussion sounds. The Brooklyn two-piece created melancholy, a night drive through a city you once cared for, a sound of forlorn acceptance.
By the time 2016’s It’s Immaterial rolled around, Black Marble had evolved their sound further and dropped a member to become a solo effort for Chris Stewart. Less lo-fi and with a smaller focus on electronic instrumentation, their second album carried the sound of melancholy to new places, making songs like single ‘Iron Lung’ sound happier but also pleadingly desperate. The tracks themselves felt confident and melodically adventurous. Gone was the debut’s obsession with Joy Division, replaced by songs like ‘Collene’ which draws on 80s radio ballads, or ‘Frisk’ which has a touch of Depeche Mode about its swooning vocal work.
Last year’s Bigger Than Life shifted again, opening itself up to joy. The expert handling of bleak melody was replaced with a mastery of 80s pop that is unabashedly optimistic. Not up-tempo, the static-y lo-fi edge and melancholy that makes Black Marble unique remains intact, but the music Chris Stewart now crafts is infinitely more diverse and poignant, creating some of the most exciting synth music around at the moment.
See the video for ‘Feels’ here: