If the throbbing hellscape of 2021 is supposedly causing many young bands to whimper in existential fear and lick their numerous wounds, no one passed this bleak memo on to black midi. No second album syndrome and no sophomore slump for Britain’s most exciting and challenging young rock band, no matter what obstacles have been strewn in their path. The follow up to Schlagenheim is a dynamic, hellacious, inventive success. Cavalcade, their second studio album for Rough Trade, scales beautiful new heights, reaching ever upwards from an already lofty base of early achievements.
The second of Cameron’s track’s is the chiming and introspective ‘Diamond Stuff’ which is named after a brilliant experimental novel by Isabel Waidner and channels the same languid slow core, post rock vibes as The For Carnation before venturing blissfully further and further out into territory that only black midi can currently occupy. He describes the lyrics as concerning “dying and being thrown in a peat bog just to be discovered hundreds of thousands of years later by a mining company”. This, more than any other track on Cavalcade, shows just how assured black midi have become in pushing their studio practice outwards in all directions. The kit list for this song alone includes a cello, a sax, a grand piano, two bouzoukis, a late 19th Century zither called a Marxophone, a flute, a lap steel, synths and a wok. Hold on a second… a wok? Morgan laughs: “With this track in particular there was so much space for scary sounds and little colours to be introduced so I got a lot of percussion out to use. I’d been making a damn fine stir fry during lockdown so that probably inspired me to bring the wok in from the kitchen and play it with a violin bow. We had a lot of fun making this track, trying out lots of cool things.” After the prowling, bristling funk of ‘Dethroned’ explodes into a maelstrom of noise, ‘Hogwash And Balderdash’ is a pure rager calling to mind the berserk prog energy of the Cardiacs and the lysergic funk of Primus seen through the black midi prism. And then the album ends with the epic ‘Ascending Forth’ which dares to dream a 21st Century update of classic folk rock and Rock In Opposition styles; exploding and then reassembling them into a sublime new whole.