A lot of the talk swirling around Black Marble’s breakthrough / Lab fav LP It’s Immaterial (2016, Ghostly) focused on Chris Stewart’s move from NYC to LA, but that record was already written and recorded before the move, making this his first proper LA record. Apparently, his car broke down shortly after his arrival, so he’d take the bus every day from his home in Echo Park to his studio downtown (this only reaffirms my decision to a) not own a car b) live in New York and c) keep my studio in my apartment). Sounds like he’s had plenty of time on the bus to ponder shit, describing this record as “less about how I see things and more about the way things just are; seeing myself as a part of a lineage of people trying to do a little something instead of trying to create a platform for myself individually.” The sound of Bigger Than Life is classic Black Marble - heavy on vintage analog gear - but this time Stewart detached himself from the computer even further, writing and sequencing everything via MIDI on his MPC. BTL starts off earnestly (no freaky intro this time), getting straight to the point with bars like “I never ever met a normal girl who kept bones under her bed” just 30 seconds in. The whole record smacks with vintage coldwave vibes as per usual, but sounds like Stewart’s come out of his shell just a little bit, like he turned the low-pass filter on his voice from 90% down to around 50. The melodies are brighter, poppier and New Orderier than ever, with “Daily Driver,” “Grey Eyeliner” “Shoulder” and the title track on the level with any of Immaterial’s catchiest joints. “One Eye Open” is tailor-made goth club dancefloor sweetness with its pulsing synth bass and 150bpm plod (fingers crossed some Netflix music supervisor hears this so Stewart can get his car fixed). The record is not without its introspective moments though; “Feels” finds Stewart “waiting on the summer that I’ll never see,” and sober closer “Call” sees him pontificating aloud over the vast western expanse, with sugary picked guitar ringing out until the side ends. With three full-length albums released by as many labels, it feels like Black Marble has finally found a good home at Sacred Bones alongside Blanck Mass, Exploded View, David Lynch, John Carpenter et al. This limited variant comes on split white and red colored vinyl (I’m too lazy to make a Pokemon / coldwave venn diagram meme); recommended.
- half red half white colored vinyl
- limited edition
- music label: Sacred Bones Records 2019
reviewed by him downstairs 08/2019