Black Marble: A Different Arrangement
- Coldwave has well and truly crawled out of its shallow grave for another bop around the cemetery, or at least that is what everyone’s saying, about the likes of Black Marble. They sure have a lot in common with Joy Division, I suppose,Siouxsie not so much. Whatever, comparisons are, as I always say, totally odious, so let’s concentrate on what our Marble mates have dragged from out the crypt, hey? Some rather fantastic treasure, as it turns out. If you heard the debut EP from this Brooklyn duo, Weight Against The Door, you’d have heard darkwave synths, postpunk bass-lines and machine-like kraut efficiency. That was already pretty sweet and on the strength of it their first full-length is getting a world-wide release; this baby, as the title A Different Arrangement suggests, is a bit different. The most obvious element is Chris Stewart’s deep but reserved baritone, which has now been treated to nearly as much reverb as one of John Maus’ efforts. Also, everything is less in your face, this time round, lurking behind a ghostly, ethereal production layer; to return to that Maus comparison: where he goes so far overboard that it’s bizarrely winning, Black Marble’s sounds are, by contrast, perfectly proportioned. The post-punk intensity has been reined in, the kraut rhythms hum quietly, off in the distance and everything floats along in the beautiful, evening cool. It all fits with such precision that the few moments on the album where something unexpected happens are a bit of a jolt to the system. There are a couple of synth squawks on the rather sludgy Last which just made me go wha..? The flipside of everything being organised with the efficiency of a solid-state supercomputer is that A Different Arrangement could get a little boring. Honestly, it doesn’t though; I could dance, minimally, to this for several hours yet. Black Marble is cool, tasteful, and smooth; I can’t afford to have my bathroom decked out in it, but I can surely listen to it all night long.
- Chris Cobcroft.