When you think back a few years, specifically around the time that Fabric was closed down, there seems to be an underlying current of worry within the music industry that London’s nightlife could be permanently changing for the worst. In the wake of gentrification, across London music venues threatened closure due to increasing rent and property development. Fortunately, London is resilient. It may be true that the venues that were famed for the creation of London’ diverse music scene are not what they once were, and as predicted the most vibrant and culturally diverse events now take place on the outskirts of the city. But is that such a bad thing?
Stepping into Studio 9424, which lies nestled under a railway bridge in Hackney Wick, there’s a buzz exuberating from the hazy, laser filled room that you only seem to find in these semi-underground venues. LA-based, Panther Moderns heavy techno beats provide the support giving the feeling that you’re at a rave rather than preparing for a live performance from a band. The setting perfectly matches Black Marble’s fringed, cold wave sound and the aesthetic of the broad fan base.
Black Marble, a collaboration between Chris Stewart and Ty Cube, was birthed in New York in early January 2012. With the release of the third album, Bigger Than Life, and a move to LA it has diverged into the solo project of Chris Steward. On Bigger Than Life the synth driven, post-punk baselines that provide Black Marble’s unique sound continue to command. However, Stewarts deadpan catchy hooks are given more space to create a more dynamic and pop aligned sound.
For the finale of the UK stretch of the tour Stewart, base in hand, takes to the stage to open with the album’s namesake, ‘Bigger Than Life’. There is something so simple but so perfect in the way the Stewards perceptive lyrics roll over the melodic and repetitive beat to create a sound that clearly draws on post-punk and cold wave influences without mimicking them.
Fans cheer as the light jingle of Feels, the second single from Bigger Than Life, fills the room. Listening to Black Marble alone sends you a blissful inward state; live the combination of base lines and synth seem to carry more energy and there isn’t a static head in the crowd.
UK is a great addition to the set for obvious reasons and also highlights how much lighter the newer tracks are to those from the first album. Private Show, arguably the best single from Bigger Than Life, provides the upbeat climax of the night. There isn’t an iPhone in the air all night- although an edgier camcorder can be spotted- which hints at the entranced state of the room.
A Great Design, one of the most danceable numbers, is squeezed into the set before, a mere 40 minutes in; Stewart announces that they have to leave the stage. These technical issues slightly mare the night as some of the stand out songs from Iron Lung have to be omitted but fans don’t seem disgruntled, only grateful for the songs they did get to hear.
Black Marbles dynamic sound and Stewart’s unique delivery of melodies combined with the club setting provides a set that feels exciting and reassuring. As long as nights like this prevail, London’s music scene can continue to thrive and incise exciting, unparalleled artist such as Black Marble.