Ghostly International – October 14, 2016
Black Marble is the name used for Chris Stewart’s musical project that began in 2012. After a series of releases on Hardly Art, Black Marble has released its second LP, It’s Immaterial. Stewart, a recent transplant from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, made the record throughout his final days in New York, resulting in a work that can be viewed as an exercise in change. Although he has been adamant that the album not be seen as a result of his new sunny residence, the album at times sounds much brighter than his previous work. This change could perhaps suggest a subconscious byproduct of his mental detachment from New York.
The album starts with a jarring introduction of strange and screaming sounds, designed to deter listeners without an open ear. Stewart is not focused those listeners. Songs such as “Golden Heart,” which has a tropical melody come in halfway through the song, cast a breeze of the warm Los Angeles sky onto the landscape of the album. The upbeat melodies of tracks like “Frisk” show the modern take of Black Marble’s synth-based music. These songs at times sound akin to poppy and atmospheric acts such as their New York contemporaries DIIV. However, all the moody 80s synth and post-punk influence on previous Black Marble releases is still present. “Iron Lung” and “Portland U” have simple yet driving drums, reminiscent of early post-punk. Together with the Peter Hook-ish bass lines, the rhythm sections of the album produce a framework not unlike that which may be found on Joy Division and early New Order songs.
Throughout the album, Stewart’s drowned, lo-fi vocals provide a cold comfort to the songs. The lyrics feature portraits of characters as well as personal meditations of Stewart’s own life. You hear the intimate nature of the songs yet perceive a relatable warmth of the experiences.
The transition to Los Angeles has proved welcoming. Black Marble performed a sold-out record-release performance at The Echo’s “Part Time Punks.” The burgeoning post-punk acts of California can easily serve as a home for Stewart to continue his musical endeavors and expand into other styles.
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Former Ghosts – New Love.
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