Live Music + Gig Reviews

Black Marble @ Patterns, Brighton

20 October 2022

New York synth pop natives serve up a well meaning, if somewhat despondent, mix of nostalgic lo-fi indie electronics

Black Marble

Black Marble (Photo: Ashley Leahy)

In a week where other bands have taken to social media to name and shame venues for shady practices and greedy contracts, Black Marble have succeeded where those other acts couldn’t. They’ve managed to undertake a gruelling tour of the UK and its diminishing live music circuit, without losing their minds and completely demolishing their bank balances. Even though the venue staff worked extra hard to suck all the fun out of the experience and the crowd was both spartan and apathetic, the New York synth pop natives put on a plucky show of strength that just about managed to make the experience worthwhile.

Blanketed in the obligatory red neon overhead light that defines this clammy underworld, and stood in front of an array of pulsing white lights that seemingly sent out a morse code cry for attention, the band offered a well meaning, if somewhat despondent, mix of nostalgic lo-fi indie electronics that ultimately dissolved into a voluminous slab of enormous and pleasant nothingness.

Humming low end bass rhythmically punctuated each track, staccato drum machine beats hammered home their dissonant edginess and the winsome lyrics were buried beneath so many layers of processed studio indulgence, that even hoary alt-right stooge Ariel Pink would no doubt blush at the onion like excess. Whilst what they offered musically was engaging enough, with its keen similarities to the yearning mutability of Future Islands and the chill of folk like Kavinsky and Survive, there was a distinct lack of spectacle and connection with the scant crowd.

There may not have been all of 50 people in the room, but a chance was missed to forge a defining memory for those present for years to come. It looked like laundry day for frontman Chris Stewart as he schlepped aimlessly around the stage, unsure of what to do with himself following an injury that has left him unable to play guitar, he and his comrades seemed equally disparaged but committed to performing regardless. Had they let us in more, and vocalised some of their anguish, the cracks in the surface might have given us some depth and sensation. Sadly, everything ran too smoothly and got lost beneath the polish.

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Black Marble @ Patterns, Brighton