Opinion: Black Midi are the future
By Erin Botten
Black Midi, a London-based group of four and alumni of Croydon’s Brit School, are the best bet I have for how the future will sound. The easiest genres to liken the group to are rock and jazz, but their music is more layered and diverse than a simple fusion of genres. There are clear nods to hip-hop and their music is cinematic in scale and direction. They have tracks that echo the vast highs and lows of classical music and they’re easy to dance to. This fact was reflected in their appearance on the line-up for Mura Masa’s upcoming Warehouse Project event.
I think that “boundary pushing” is a term often used far too liberally when describing new artists. On this occasion, however, it might just be apt. Given that 2019 has been the year of their debut singles and album, alongside their touring schedule of over 40 gigs, it’s apparent that they’re on a mission to establish themselves in people’s musical consciences. Their most streamed track at present, ‘953’, has over 600,000 listens on Spotify. Their debut album, Schlagenheim, has received almost unanimously positive reviews across the board.
As is apparent from interviews, the group are intentionally shirking any genre foisted upon them. This is not an arbitrary, anti-establishment move by them. Rather, it is an intentional means of ensuring that they still have creative space to explore. Given the variety of their debut, it should be apparent that they won’t be reserving the experimental material for the ‘notorious third album’. As such, the prospect of all the possible directions this group can go in is exciting. Add to this the truly new territory the group are occupying and the future looks bright for the band. They are not just simply making incremental changes to existing genres.
Of course, the true testament to a band’s longevity is often the people who follow in their footsteps. This could be the critical test of Black Midi’s impact on the music scene. I would hope that their free-form approach to music would inspire new musicians to do something similar. Even failing that, it will be interesting to see what the copycats would create. The group’s choice to pursue what feels right rather than bowing down to what they may feel obligated to produce is admirable. Black Midi are the future.