black midi is an experimental rock band from London England. Members Gordie Greep (vocals, guitar), Mat Kwasniewski-Kelvin (vocals, guitar), Cameron Piction (vocals, bass) and Morgan Simpson (drums) took their name from a Japanese music genre called Black MIDI. The quartet met at BRIT, a performing arts school.
They are reluctantly described as “guitar rock” but” but even that doesn’t describe even begin to describe their debut album Schalagenheim. If I were trying to compare them to any band at all I think they most closely resemble bands like Boredom and Swans. Equally inspired by eccentric rap star, Danny Brown and ’70s jazz fusion group the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Other members site harsh drone band Merzbow as an inspiration. The lead vocals are unique blend of froggy and melodic and are even more impressive considering that Greep never had a desire to sing. And the guitars sound like an hand full of guitar pedals. The drumming is dope af and is my personal favorite part of the band. Both Greep and Simpson learned how to improvise in church bands—Greep in north London, Simpson in the quieter county of Hertfordshire, where his session-musician parents enlisted him as parish drummer when he was 5.
In 2018 before their debut release though they performed five songs at a Kex Hostel in Reykjavi, Iceland for Seattle’s KEXP. In fact that is where I caught wind of their eccentric performance. I wasn’t the only one I remember seeing them talked about by EVERYBODY. They baffled me with they did and I’ve been wanting to write about them ever since. Listen to this performance:
In the January of 2019 they announced that they were signed to Rough Trade Records and produced an amazing debut album with music producer Dan Carey(Franz Ferdinand and Bat for Lashes). They don’t recreate their sound live instead they chose to augment their sound with piano, accordion, synesisers, banjo and drum machines. About the way they work frontman Gordie Greep said to Pitchfork “The idea was to do stuff that’s impossible to do live,”
I’ve said about a billion times already but bands who fuck with experiments are my jam or at least one of them. So, I figured I’d finally throw them out to those that may not know they exist. black midi is def not for somebody that is looking for a straight forward band, that’s about as far from what they are as anybody can get. I’d recommend listening to Schalagenheim just before going out to party because it will quite literally pump you up!
Would love to know all your favorite experimental rock bands that people have never heard of. Lay them on us and we might just become one of our jams!
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