Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Words by Abi Whistance
When we see opposite ends of the spectrum collide in the way that black midi command, it must always be violent. There’s no finesse to it; elements are forced to fit until they melt into one another like there shouldn’t have ever been another way. In what can only be called the epitome of DIY, the four-piece downright refuse to hold your hand through their live performances- they expect you to let them get on with it and, well, do it yourself.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason as to why a group of metalheads, indie kids and all bits in-between can be brought together through one band, but looking across a steadily multiplying crowd at the Irish Centre, it seems that an impossible task has somehow been made possible.
I’ll take a stab in the dark at trying to unpick this mystery: it’s all down to intrigue. You’re stood there trying to tap your feet to something untappable, nod your head to something unnoddable; even with a knowledge of their back catalogue, live you simply know nothing.
And to any music buff, this is painstaking.
To not truly grasp something, to not understand what realm of thought this came from, it’s unbearable to anyone with musical investment to lie down and take it. It’s sudoku, it’s lotus, it’s anything else exasperating. The worst part of it all is that black midi aren’t going to give you a chance for a Q&A either- they simply get on, blast their set and get the fuck off again.
There’s no time to come up for air during their set. Each song becomes the next and I’m not entirely sure how; there’s definite ends and beginnings, they’re just all in the wrong place. Each jump, each bridge and each break of silence could be a new song, or simply an addition to the existing one. It’s desirably disorientating, a refreshing take on a musical landscape that’s been bone dry for too long.
The last minute and a half of Aladdin Sane is what black midi are: chaotic, sinister and impossible to understand. Something that’s distant, untouchable. Something that only the rarest of characters can create from nothing.