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black midi Schlagenheim album cover
3.96 | 75 ratings | 4 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 953 (5:20)
2. Speedway (3:17)
3. Reggae (3:29)
4. Near DT, MI (2:20)
5. Western (8:08)
6. Of Schlagenheim (6:24)
7. bmbmbm (4:56)
8. Years Ago (2:34)
9. Ducter (6:42)

Total Time 43:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Geordie Greep / vocals, guitar
- Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin / vocals, guitar
- Cameron Picton / vocals, bass, synths, samples
- Morgan Simpson / drums

Thanks to Nogbad_The_Bad for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy BLACK MIDI Schlagenheim Music

BLACK MIDI Schlagenheim ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BLACK MIDI Schlagenheim reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Kempokid
4 stars As of late there seems to be an up and coming scene of British art/post punk bands that have an anxious, manic tone to them that also take on a range of influences to create a rather quirky, distinctive sound. Of these bands, Black Midi is definitely one of, if not the most popular of them all. On paper they also happen to be as close to ideal music as you could get for me, or at least one branch of it, blending noise and math rock with that post punk and post hardcore edge to end up with an album that would both be complex, yet have a ton of character to go along with it. In practice, this proves to be mostly true, but with a couple of issues that stop it from reaching its full potential to me. I feel like part of the problem could potentially stem from the band still finding their feet, as while they manage to remarkably craft a distinctive sound right out of the gate, there definitely feels like there's something missing from the composition of quite a few tracks here.

Schlagenheim starts off strong with 953, kicking things off with frantic energy across the board, both the guitar and drums sounding as if they're trying to rush ahead of something in a panicked state. I like the way this intro teases the slower, steady riff to come in later by slowing down, feeling as if it's about to change, before jumping back up at the same pace as before for a while longer before eventually settling down into it. The main riff the song is based around plays repetitively throughout, having a strange groove to it and giving everything a sense of grounding. My one issue with the song is the way it erupts into a more aggressive, fast paced version of this riff near the end feels quite abrupt, everything falling apart just moments before, only to suddenly cut back in. It's pretty cool in concept, but it ends up disrupting the flow to me due to feeling as if it's not sufficiently built up to such a moment. Speedway proves to be far more tightly written and is incredibly effective at creating a sense of tension. It stays consistently quiet as Geordie Greep is more or less just speaking the lyrics, but the way certain phrases are repeated while the instrumentation gradually intensifies creates a really strong, menacing atmosphere. It may not really get insane at any point, but it really doesn't need it, it's perfect in the way it keeps cutting out right before these climactic moments. Reggae almost feels as if it continues straight from Speedway, also sounding like the softer side of math rock, but quickly ends up setting itself apart. The way the song progresses is utterly fantastic, sounding like the leadup to some huge, cataclysmic event with the way it reaches such dramatic heights. This is further supported by Greep's vocals being very close to their absolute best, being insanely expressive and adding to the grandiose nature of the song.

Near DT, MI is the reason why I can only say that Reggae has the 2nd best vocals on the album, because wow, talk about intense. This song contains such a panicked mood to it, even the soft bits sound as if they're on the cusp of losing all control, which makes it all the more satisfying when everything bursts into barely coherent screams and a profound sense of desperation. So much happens within these 2 minutes and literally none of it feels wasted or anything less than amazing, practically perfect song. And straight from one best song to another with Western, which feels intent on taking the listener on a journey and does so quite effectively. The bit of country twang added into the mix further makes this stand out from everything else, with the math rock riffs working surprisingly well with this sound. The song doesn't really reach any insane climaxes or anything that noisy, but it feels clear that that isn't really the point, the point is just to tell a story and pair it with something a bit prettier, more majestic sounding, and it all culminates in a very enjoyable and unique standout track.

While I've been mostly extremely positive about the album so far, I do think that its 2nd side is quite a large step down that focuses a bit too much on being overly quirky and loses a lot of its charm in the process. Of Schlagenheim embodies this issue most clearly to me, with its mix of amazing aspects and stuff that frankly doesn't work. The way the first couple of minutes develop, gradually intensifying along with having this amazing, scratchy riff is quickly brought down once everything shifts gears into sounding more like inane ramblings. What makes it worse is the way it just keeps repeating itself from this point, not really going anywhere, especially after the climax happens halfway into the song and just doesn't even manage to work well in its own right. The reason why I feel that the climactic moment where the song briefly descends into atonal guitars and screaming doesn't land at all is because I don't think Greep can convincingly sound unhinged in the way he clearly was trying to, instead being insanely annoying, and tanking the song in the process of this. My issues with this continue into Bmbmbm, easily my least favourite here, which is a shame considering it might be the coolest from an instrumental standpoint. The rhythmic interplay is so cool to listen to, especially with such a prominent bassline. The way it progresses definitely leaves a bit to be desired however, essentially sounding as if it's trying to create tension by repeating the same part a lot and then suddenly getting louder out of nowhere, but at the very least, the individual components are cool. The huge issue with the song comes from the terrible vocals more than anything else. Most of it is just mindless rambling of the same couple of phrases in "wacky and quirky" ways but it all just sounds nonsensical and downright aggravating, making for a borderline agonising experience that's amplified by my disappointment in how the instrumental had such potential. Years Ago is rather insignificant overall, a little song that sounds a lot like something from a Mike Patton project but just not as good to me, in one ear, out the other. Ducter feels somewhat similar to me in terms of just not leaving too much of an impression. There are some cool aspects of it that harken back to the musical storytelling of Western, albeit not quite as well, but for the most part this is an alright, unmemorable song with an ending that yet again tries too hard to be wacky but just ends up being kinda obnoxious instead.

Overall, I find this album to have a very interesting sound and can easily see why there are a lot of people going absolutely nuts over it, but it really doesn't appeal to me often enough for me to say that it's something I personally and consistently adore in the same way. Some issues regarding the way the band tries to build tension through repetition with few changes until everything seems to happen at once in massively abrupt ways proves to me that Black Midi still have room to grow in the songwriting department to me, some room to further refine their music. Furthermore, the massive decline in the 2nd half of this almost kills my enjoyment, with the way it leans extra hard on being so silly quickly losing its novelty and just being annoying, with the wonky pacing further sinking things. Despite these criticisms, I still think that this album is rather cool in all it manages to do right, with the first half being packed with expertly written, anxious music full of exciting instrumentation and a clear drive to make something that really stands out. The amount of potential here is crazy, and I'm looking very forward to seeing what Black Midi has in store for the future.

Best tracks: Speedway, Near DT MI, Western

Weakest tracks: Of Schlagenheim, Bmbmbm, Years Ago

I gave this one a bit of a higher score than I normally would, both because I truly do think that half of this album is utterly masterful, and I also feel like this is an interesting enough album to warrant being added to most collections, despite its flaws.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Pre-keys, pre-saxes, full-on guitar barrage.

The debut studio release from London's refreshing new prog-punk sensation. And the band lists Mahavishnu Orchestra as their #1 common inspiration!

1. "953" (5:20) a super-high energy song in the vein of 1970s punk and yet infused with the virtuosity and intellect of geniuses of the Robert Fripp / Les Claypool sort. The soft, pastoral passage in the second minute--over which Geordie begins singing--is so unexpected and yet, again, such a sign of this band's exceptional genius. Love the religious/psychological indictment of the lyrics. Great opener. Awesome display of power, youth, and control. There are metal bands who don't have this much coherence. (9/10)

2. "Speedway" (3:17) a rather simple though polyrhythmic song using a kind of ska-beat with instrumental craziness occurring around it while Matt talk/sings in a DAVID BYRNE-like "duplicitous reassuring husband" voice. Genius and entertaining. (9/10)

3. "Reggae" (3:29) the baseline two-chord riff within one of the main motif in this song remind me of something old and favored--I think something from an early 1980s XTC record. The abrasive industrial sounds are awesome reminders of a type of music that kind of came and went in the 1980s and 90s. (9/10)

4. "Near DT, MI" (2:20) one of Matt's songs--one that expresses outrage for the criminal acts that have resulted in the "acceptance" and attempted gloss-over of the lead poisoning of the public water systems of city of Flint, Michigan's (which is near Detroit, MI). Brilliantly composed, rendered, and vocaled (by Cameron when I saw them in concert: THE song that got the mosh pit revved up.) I'm thinking that, once upon a time a youthful Bill Nelson would have been proud of this song. A top three song, for sure! (10/10)

5. "Western" (8:08) a rather subdued, Country & Western-ized jazz song in which Geordie makes his first attempts to introduce his Elvis-like crooner alter-ego. At 1:45, however, the band has no choice but to inject some kind of prog- rock pulsation. The dark, violent lyrics are, in my opinion, a tongue-in-cheek parody of all C&W melodrama. It's awesome! At 5:40 there is a very sudden and dramatic "change of channels" from the abrasive cacophony that was building, to the bucolic C&W soundscape that opened the song. Nice front porch weave of folk-country music. (13.5/15)

6. "Of Schlagenheim" (6:24) this one opens in pure prog rock territory: every sound, effect, instrument, and riff is straight out of some classic psychedlic prog or prot-prog song (even LED ZEPPELIN!) Geordie's lyrics are delivered as if stream-of-consciousness, but I know they're not. An almost Canterbury-Gong section is beautifully rendered before switching back to bluesy LED ZEP--in fact,in several variations thereof. An awesome, simple awesome song. Another top three song for me. (9.25/10)

7. "bmbmbm" (4:56) the song that introduced me to this band. As you might imagine, it was a relationship of entertainment from the start--as well as one of respect for creativitiy. What came later--after hearing other songs by the band, was respect and awe at their musicianship. The point is, here, that she moves with a purpose. A bit sophomoric and yet also ingenius. (8.75/10)

8. "Years Ago" (2:34) What?! Peter Gabriel-esque World music? Or is it CAN or TALKING HEADS? Or some prog or death metal band? Great baseline groove from the rhythm section. This vocal is not Geordie. Could it be Matt? or Cameron? Whatever it is, it's awesome! (5/5)

9. "Ducter" (6:42) using a kind of minimalist Math Rock approach )as they will do more of on on their next album) to set the foundation for the showcase of the lyrics, Geordie delivers another idiosyncratic vocal performance that is half-crazed and half-angry, yet always entertaining. The intricate timing of every band member's performance here is quite a razor's edge to travel, but they do it with perfection--with enthusiasm and serious commitment--as they do in concert. An awesome display of whole band interconnection. (9.5/10)

Total Time 43:10

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of refreshing neo-punk eclectic Math Rock. An album I highly recommend for any music lover to hear: I believe that these are the future sounds of progressive rock music!

Review by Warthur
4 stars The debut album by black midi at first sounds like an aggressive morass of noisy math rock - think rhythms and musicianship akin to math rock and textures and post-punk influences not too far from what the noise rock crowd like.

Listen closer, though, and it becomes apparent that their roots run deeper than that. After all, one of their earliest releases was extracts from a live performance backing none other than Damo Suzuki; deep within the rhythms of black midi's work is the motorik pulse which drove Krautrock units like Can.

As such, their subsequent evolution away from this sound into a more avant-prog style was signposted well in advance, the band showing their command of the history of experimental rock music from the start. The end result is an effort which will please adventurous math rock listeners and fans of the more aggressice end of Krautrock.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Black midi debut is a good release but with a lack of polishment and solidness that is expected of a great album. Here we see a group of young musicians who are extremely talented in their respective instruments, if you skip to any moment of the album in almost any part of it someone is playing i ... (read more)

Report this review (#2571778) | Posted by koresea | Friday, June 18, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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