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CAVALCADE

black midi

RIO/Avant-Prog


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black midi Cavalcade album cover
4.02 | 123 ratings | 10 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. John L (5:14)
2. Marlene Dietrich (2:54)
3. Chondromalacia Patella (4:49)
4. Slow (5:37)
5. Diamond Stuff (6:21)
6. Dethroned (5:03)
7. Hogwash and Balderdash (2:33)
8. Ascending Forth (9:46)

Total Time 42:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Geordie Greep / vocals (1-3,6-8), guitar, writer
- Cameron Picton / vocals (4,5,8), bass, writer
- Morgan Simpson / drums, writer
- Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin / writer (1,3)

With:
- Kaidi Akinnibi / saxophone
- Seth Evans / keyboards
- Jerskin Fendrix / violin (1)

Thanks to Nogbad_The_Bad for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BLACK MIDI Cavalcade ratings distribution


4.02
(123 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
37%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
31%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

BLACK MIDI Cavalcade reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Sometimes life just seems unfair, especially in the roughshod world of the music industry, even including its more modern indie niche markets . Bands come and go and some slog it out for decades hoping to hit their stride but never really gather more than a small loyal following. And then there are those bands that just seem to manifest a magic mojo that seems inhuman, the kind that exudes as a certain magnetism strong enough to overpower Magneto and like a rocket booster exhibit an uncanny ability to cut through the lines right out of the gate and strike a chord with the public in a seemingly instant connection with the world at large.

Such is the case of the London based BLACK MIDI who like many modern artists has a punctuation fetish and prefers to sport its moniker in the lower case and in such humility blurs the distinction between genres, fills the cracks in between and gleefully struts their idiosyncratic mashup of sounds without regard to the pigeonholing prospects of the music genre nazis. With a moniker that refers to a music genre that consists of compositions that use MIDI files to create scores containing a seemingly infinite number of notes all squished together like a rush hour subway train, BLACK MIDI in more than one way lives up to its moniker by adopting a similar approach with seemingly incompatible bed fellows existing in hitherto unthinkable cooperative efforts.

With genre defying leaps of faith BLACK MIDI burst onto the scene with 2019's "Schlagenheim" which displayed a seemingly distinct group of seasoned musicians who dexterously walked the razor's edge between the nonchalant detachment of no wave and the more intricate nerdy exhibitionism of math rock and post-hardcore. With virtuosic displays of frantic swells of distorted noise and irregular rhythmic oscillations, BLACK MIDI proved it was a cut above the grade with its abstract yet tangible emotive connective tissue that somehow latched onto that magic mojo that all artists strive to achieve but few actually succeed in conjuring into existence. And to top it off this was all the works of a group of wily teenagers barely out of high school. While all fine and dandy, nobody probably thought much about exactly where BLACK MIDI would go next in today's on again off again musical world.

Come 2021, a mere two years after the debut and BLACK MIDI are back with the jaw-dropping evolution that catapults the band's eccentricities into the stratosphere in the form of CAVALCADE, a densely packaged sonic attack that builds upon what came before but expands its tentacles in about every possible direction. Building upon the noisy math rock underpinnings of "Schagenheim," CAVALCADE injects a fiery infusion of jangled jazz sensibilities, ethereal post-rock and most importantly the jittery sonic terrain of avant-prog time signature workouts that would make classic prog stalwarts such as Yes or Gentle Giant gladly hand over the baton. Within this sonic maelstrom of a mere eight tracks BLACK MIDI unleashed one of the most intricately designed scores of the modern era that somehow simultaneously follows and breaks all the rules.

CAVALCADE seems to have everything going for it as it juggles technical wizardry, rhythmic opulence and cryptic psychedelic abstractness. Add to that a strong front man in the form of Geordie Greep whose grizzled vocal style belies his short time on the planet. Like many of these newer bands that have grown up in the on demand internet age, BLACK MIDI seems to have mastered the art of consciousness streaming where all the files of music samples tucked away in the gray matter just pour out in an organic flow of creativity in a place where such disparate musical experiences have fermented into a new elixir of sonic perspectives. It's utterly amazing how well CAVALCADE flows from the opening avant-prog infused "John L" through the surreal and psychedelic mid-section with tracks like "Diamond Stuff" to the orchestral grand finale of "Ascending Forth."

Even for hardened music lovers who have indulged in pretty much every genre under the sun, CAVALCADE will come as a slap in the face and a pleasant reprieve from the regularly scheduled program. Laced with everything from brutal prog angst to theatrical atmospheric orchestrations, CAVALCADE excels in its attention to detail laid out with an amazingly diverse soundscape including but not limited to the changing of vocal duties between guitarist Geordie Geep and bassist Cameron Picton. Imagine if you will, the rock in opposition sensibilities of Henry Cow, the early 70s jazz-fusion aspirations of Miles Davis and the post-rock steadiness of Tortoise all thrown in the cauldron with DNA inspired no wave and math rock vortexes of Slint or Ruins and you're on the right track. Gracefully indulgent and cleverly crafted, CAVALCADE is a truly amazingly unique album that showcases a wildly interesting band just getting warmed up! So far my pick for best album of 2021 bar none.

Review by Kempokid
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Well, if my interest in Black Midi wasn't piqued before (it was), then it sure is now after seeing what they did here. Obviously not content with boxing themselves into one particular sound, the band straight up ditches a lot of the core elements of their debut and instead decides to make a completely full-on avant-prog album. What makes this even better is that despite leaving most of the post hardcore and punk influence and having a few other huge differences, the core identity here feels very much in line with their other output. This is especially true in how frantic and anxious it still manages to sound at times, less being chaotic for the sake of it, and more using that to heighten the almost panicked vibe that the crazier moments of this tend to have. This is not to say that I think this is an amazing album either however, as I actually prefer Schlagenheim for reasons I'll shortly get into, it's just that even so, it's really cool what they did here and ends up making the band even more fascinating.

The album immediately shows that this direction can be something truly special with John L, the band's best song so far. Everything about this is frankly insane, with the dense, repetitive string arrangements regularly falling apart as layers upon layers of insanity are added to the mix. This really doesn't sit still for even a moment, whether it's moments of atonal piano being thrown around, the tempo rapidly increasing, or the tense breakdown that leads back into the driving force of the song, and it all serves to throw the listener for a loop time and time again. Marlene Dietrich is unfortunately nothing too special, but represents the versatility brought to the table with the vastly different sound palette here. Hearing such a soft, lush track hits the point of being a bit surreal when you consider basically everything the band did before this, even if the song itself feels rather underdeveloped. These first 2 tracks also demonstrate another huge change this album presents, Greep's vocals performance. The intense, crazy stuff feels considerably more subdued and restrained without losing that goofy character of such a performance, preventing it all from getting annoying and having the classic Black Midi charm. His softer singing is also interesting in how soothing, melodic and expressive it is, really lovely stuff, with both styles overall creating a wonderful contrast and contributing further to the unique flavour of Cavalcade.

For as unique and interesting as I find the changes made here, I can't really say that I'm too sold on some of this even after a handful of listens, especially the quieter moments. Both Diamond Stuff and Ascending Forth totally miss the mark for me, and this is largely due to the fact that they start going in interesting directions too little too late. While both of these have some gorgeous, passionate sections in them, to get there you'll need to listen to a lot of repetition until things suddenly pick up. This is a similar issue that I had at times with Schlagenheim, but the key difference is that in the case of Cavalcade, these bits don't really carry any sort of drive on their own, making it just feel as if it's meandering and just waiting around for something else to swoop in and pick things up. The repetition unfortunately also finds itself on one of the other fast paced, chaotic songs, Hogwash and Balderdash as well. While the first 30 seconds or so throw a lot at the wall and go all over the place in some fun ways, before long these components keep getting repeated in such a way that its sense of spontaneous energy gets killed and makes it feel quite predictable.

I personally also take issue with the production and mixing of the album, because there's a sense of inconsistency to it, but with the common thread of elements sounding totally buried in the mix to the point where things can often be indistinguishable. While this sometimes leads to making the album feels chaotic and dense, such as with John L, but it often makes things sound far less intense than they by all rights should. This is especially problematic with Dethroned, which has a lot of stuff going on, but all the vocal-oriented parts in it are so horribly muted by the fact that you can barely hear the vocals underneath the 80 layers of other stuff going on, despite the fact that the song still manages to be quite entertaining despite this. The production also prevents a lot of the nuances and intricacies in these compositions from coming through, a problem that plagues even most of the best material here, such as Slow. While I still find this song to be excellent, a lot of the more technical moments never feel as if they have enough emphasis placed on them due to the way they're often barely audible unless you're paying close attention, the focus often being drawn to everything else going on and making it feel a bit directionless. With a couple of tweaks along with making a couple more of these crazier moments stand out that bit more, this would be an album with 2 perfect masterpieces on it instead of just the 1. Either way it's a fantastic song, but it's also a testament to the fact that even most of the best tracks here have some issues that feel difficult to overlook. Another problem is how quite a few of these songs just end in a fairly unceremonious or sudden way, which makes a lot of this disappointing just due to the way that they can almost sound incomplete.

Despite these complaints, one big thing I'll give the album a lot of credit for is the way that almost every song has some moments that are ridiculously good, which ends up giving the majority of them some appeal even if they're often marred by my aforementioned problems. This also sums up my feelings about Cavalcade as a whole, definitely has some appeal despite having numerous qualities of it that I feel are extremely flawed. Black Midi with their current output essentially represent vast potential to me, I haven't fallen in love with either of their albums, and yet, I still consider them to be an extremely promising band that I'll continue to intently follow. If anything, despite liking it less, Cavalcade solidifies a lot of these thoughts on the band for me, as it hasn't just brought another masterpiece song to the table, it also demonstrates remarkable versatility and the ability to retain the band's identity even with such a left turn being brought to the table. Cannot wait to see where the band goes from here, I have confidence that it will be great.

Best tracks: John L, Chondromalacia Patella, Slow

Weakest tracks: Marlene Deitrich, Diamond Stuff, Hogwash and Balderdash

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Though I've been sitting on this album for almost five months, I simply must give it a review; people need to hear and re-hear about this band--the important contribution they're making to music and, in particular, progressive rock music.

There are some who want to question the veracity of the application of the term "progressive rock" to this band and their music. I urge you to see them live--even watch the videos of their live performances--but, if you can, see them live. You will be convinced. Not since seeing King Crimson on the Discipline and Beat tours have I seen such a stage full of virtuosos, each giving their all to each and every second of each and every song. And they're a band member short right now (guitarist/singer/composer Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin is on mental health hiatus)! But, with the addition of a keyboard player (the hardest working, most dynamic performance I've EVER seen from a keyboard artist: Seth worked harder than the drummer!) and the ubiquitous sound of the saxophone (thanks to the amazing Kaidi Akinnibi) as well as the stepping up of rising superstar Cameron Picton, this is a band on fire, on the rise, and punching holes in the Crimsonian/MarsVolta universe of aggressive prog rock.

1. "John L" (5:14) opens like something straight off of THE MARS VOLTA's De-Loused in the Comatorium, but then turns PRIMUS in its vocal performance and dominant low-end sonic range. The odd-tempoed, stop and go music is flawlessly performed despite incredible intricacy and stark periods of absolute silence. Incredible! Then the song begins to slowly but steadily increase in its speed before the staccato structure and piano banging begins. Violin also plays an important role (substituted for by soprano saxophone in concert). Such a great double riff from Geordie to keep us anchored. (9.25/10)

2. "Marlene Dietrich" (2:54) What?! What did I just hear? Smoke-lounge crooning from Geordie Greep? Wow! What versatility and flexibility--not to mention the talent are we being exposed to on this album! Amazing! The strings and slide and acoustic guitars offer such a rich chamber feel. Music does not get much better than this--from any genre or era! We are not worthy! (10/10)

3. "Chondromalacia Patella" (4:49) opens with an abrasive and very odd-tempoed strum of an electric rhyhm guitar before drums and bass chords and saxophone screams join in to punctuate. In the second minute the music settles into a jazzy, Math Rock, KING CRIMSON/AZTEC CAMERA motif over which Geordie sings in his new CASSANDRA WILSON-like low-end crooning voice. In the forth minute, as the music turns full KING CRIMSON, Geordie snaps back into his more theatric tones and cadences--but then the music drives into a continuous upward-building chord progression. In concert, this song was played out into a much longer extended version in which the pulsating saxophone-led screams between vocal sections were responded to antiphonically by the audience. A real audience pleaser and concert highpoint. here in the studio album form, it is a perfect song to illustrate the band's grounding in what are truly progressive rock forms and sounds. I am certain that our hero, the Black Knight, Sir Robert of Fripp, and his arch-nemesis, William of Bruford would both be smiling in accord while listening (or viewing) this one (not to mention the Court Jester, Adrian of Belew, and the master stick-wielder, Tony the Bald). (9.5/10)

4. "Slow" (5:37) an awesome KCRIMSONian baseline structure over which Cameron performs the extraordinary vocal: at first whispering but later screaming at the top of his lungs. Horns/saxes play a key part in the power of this--but there are also some incredibly stark, beautiful jazz guitar passages over which Cameron whisper/sings. (9/10)

5. "Diamond Stuff" (6:21) opening with some simple guitar and bass notes, repeating ad infinitum--like a SCOTT WALKER or JOHN ZORN song (though I believe Cameron is the sensitive whisper-singer)--this gradually expands into an ethereal dream-cinema jazz tune (in he fifth minute!) Beautiful (and quite unexpected)! (9/10)

6. "Dethroned" (5:03) once again Geordie is deceiving us with his crooner voice (somewhat enhanced by effects). This is a song that I've heard performed live and seen/heard on videos of live performances and it always sounds different. On KEXP it was so powerful. Here it is great though much more "controlled." Live last night it got overshadowed by some of the other songs. Those final two minutes of orchestrated cacophony are amazing! (9/10)

7. "Hogwash and Balderdash" (2:33) again, controlled chaos--in a punk way. The lyrics might give it more impact than I'm feeling. (8.5/10)

8. "Ascending Forth" (9:46) a smooth, jazzified love song to ascending fourths--something that, apparently, everybody loves. (I know I do!) Geordie's SCOTT WALKER-like vocal performance is amazing. (Perhaps a lot of black midi's inspiration comes from Scott Walker?) Beautiful Spanish acoustic guitar (Cameron?) provides the sole foundation beneath Geordie's beautiful croon for the first two minutes Then full jazz-fusion band joins in with a MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA-kind of effect (and structure). I'm reminded of some of CASSANDRA WILSON's songs-- even down to the tone and timbre of her voice in comparison to that of Geordie Greep. Awesome and powerful. (18/20)

Originally, I did not want to review this album before posting one for Cavalcade's 2019 predecessor, Schlagenheim, but October 12th's concert prompted me thus. While I think that the music catalogued on Cavalcade shows a band moving forward, pushing boundaries--often in unexpected directions--Schlagenheim may have been better for the way it provided the first impression of a new band to the (progressive rock) music scene. But this album is definitely a step forward, a step sealing this band's place in the pantheon of Prog Greats and Last Great Hopes. The next album should be ... amazing.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music and a shining star of what the 21st Century (as well as the first) has to offer Prog World.

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I originally decided to pass on this one after reading descriptions of the music but when it finished as the runner up for album of the year on the site here I decided to spend the money. I've spent quite a bit of time with this one and I can certainly appreciate the appeal for Avant fans but I'm just surprised at how popular it seems to be with the masses based on the number of ratings they get on other sites. I mean this is Avant! Like the album cover it's like they tried to cram every idea into a small space and it doesn't work for me. Complex with lots of intricate sounds plus they layer a lot. The vocals are the hardest part, I'm just not a fan. I grew up in the 70's and the many Avant bands who add Disco or those soft easy listening sounds of the 70's to their music can keep it. Just my tastes in music.

The instrumentation listed on the site here is severely lacking. We get trombone, harpsichord, cello and violin(on more than one track) and the liner notes are so detailed with the instruments and I appreciate that and am impressed with what these guys play. The music is often nervous and hyper while the singer is loungey. Again it's hard not to be impressed with the complexity and I've heard they are amazing live.

Two tracks stand out for me and they are smack dab in the middle. "Slow" for the non-invasive vocals and the inventive guitar and check out the sax. "Diamond Stuff" for the quiet start that lasts for close to 4 minutes then it turns noisy as the atmosphere swells which sounds so good as a contrast to what went on before. Tempo picks up too. The closer might have been my third choice but man the vocals early on just sound lame. Same with "Dethroned" the other track that is right there with the other three I've mentioned. Kind of hit and miss but some really good stuff on that one like the guitar before 4 minutes.

So while I'm not the biggest Avant fan I do have 30 plus releases that I value highly and this is not one of them. Good album but not in my top ten for 2021.

Latest members reviews

5 stars [Spanish speaker here, sorry for the bad english] It was a great surprise to see that a band like black midi was added to Progarchives. Being one of the best modern bands in the alternative circle with its first album that mixed math rock and post punk-like styles with few tones of prog, the band t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2583032) | Posted by Mae7Mae | Monday, August 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Cavalcade is one of the most refreshing albums I've heard in 2021. I first knew black midi because they used to be extremely hyped up before they released their debut Schlagenheim. I was actually not much of a fan of that album, and to put it best it felt like music that was meant for the intera ... (read more)

Report this review (#2576486) | Posted by mental_hygiene | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Based on the first Black Midi album, a lot of people thought they were going to move in the direction of becoming more of a post-punk band. However, their sophomore album "Cavalcade" absolutely blows all expectations out of the water. The album is a wild journey that combines Tom Waits with 70s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2576453) | Posted by tempest_77 | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Black Midi's second album is one of the finest releases in the prog-rock niche for the year of 2021, it is a bit strange to say this because is kinda hard to classify it as a prog-rock album because of the HUGE amount of influences that this album has, which makes sense since their description on ... (read more)

Report this review (#2569928) | Posted by koresea | Wednesday, June 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars So, here's the minority report. Tons of praise for this release. Five stars, top release of the year. An essential prog release. Well, not for me. I don't hear why most reviews call this a masterpiece. Noise is an integral part of the music of black midi. Almost the most important part. Shrieking vi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2548236) | Posted by Grumpyprogfan | Friday, June 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album has honestly sent a shockwave through my listening rotation. When it surprise released on streaming two days early, I listened to it three times in a row with no sort of break in between the repeats. In fact, I only stopped because I had to go to work. I couldn't tell you a single new ... (read more)

Report this review (#2547382) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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