Black Marble announces new album ‘Bigger Than Life’ + shares 1st single ‘One Eye Open’

Black Marble press photo
Photo credit: Ashley Leahy

Black Marble aka Chris Stewart has announced the forthcoming full-length release, ‘Bigger Than Life,’ which is due out October 25th via his new label home, Sacred Bones Records. Along with the announcement, he also shares the video for the beautifully synthy One Eye Open. The track is the first single from the now LA-based synth outfit’s third album. The song “is about the idea of an artist as sort of sacrificial lamb,” says Stewart, adding: “We seem to like when our public figures take a fall, which sort of makes sense considering societies long-standing desire to publicly flay the fortunate as catharsis, but I’ve always found it ironic that artists/musicians seem to fall into this category as well considering the disparity in income between say, a famous actor and a middling indie musician.  Either way, ‘One Eye Open’ is loosely based on the visual metaphor of a high wire artist in a three ring circus who elicits oohs and aahs from the crowd, but after a while starts to perform with one eye open as they grow restless.”   

With regard to the One Eye Open video, Stewart goes on to say: “I’ve been living in LA for two and a half years now, and I wanted to make a video that used the city as a character as a way to sort of show what I’ve been seeing.  I love cities so I always gravitate towards taking press photos on the street and things like that because I always want to ground myself in the city that I live in. Halle, who was on the cover of the last Black Marble record, lives out here.  We thought since this was going to be the first song off the new record that it would be cool to re-introduce her using a Lime scooter to move her through the city.  I love those scooters also.  People make fun of them but I think they are awesome and wanted to celebrate that through a character that seems a bit isolated but finds a kind of freedom on them and doesn’t really care what other people think.”

Watch the Chris Stewart and Ben Pier directed video for One Eye Open via YouTube below. 

One Eye Open is available now as a single on SpotifyApple Music, and iTunes

When Chris Stewart set out to write and record his third album as Black Marble, he had just relocated to Los Angeles, fresh off a move from New York. His new environment brought much excitement and possibility, but the distance had proved too much for the car he brought along. With it out of commission indefinitely, he purchased a bus pass and planned his daily commute from his Echo Park apartment to his downtown studio, where he began to write ‘Bigger Than Life’. The route wound all through the city, from the small local shops of Echo Park to the rising glass of the business district, to the desperation of Skid Row. The hurried energy of the environment provided a backdrop for the daily trip. When Stewart finally arrived at his studio, he’d look through his window at the mountains and the sky, seeing the beauty that makes L.A. unique — the same beauty his fellow commuters, some pushed to the edge of human endurance, had seen. That was the headspace he was in when he began to map out the syncopated drums and staccato arpeggiation of ‘Bigger Than Life‘. It’s an ode to his new condition and a shimmering synth-pop response to its cacophony.

“The album comes out of seeing and experiencing a lot of turmoil but wanting to create something positive out of it,” Stewart explains. “I wanted to take a less selfish approach on this record. Maybe I’m just getting older, but that approach starts to feel a little self-indulgent. Like, ‘Oh, look at me I’m so complicated, I get that life isn’t fair,’ It’s like, yeah, so does everyone. So with this record, it’s less about how I see things and more about the way things just are. Seeing myself as a part of a lineage of people trying to do a little something instead of trying to create a platform for myself individually.”

As with every Black Marble album, Stewart recorded, produced, and played everything you hear on ‘Bigger Than Life’ using entirely analog gear, though the process was new. This time around, he wrote everything on his MPC and sequenced it live to his synths — only using the computer to record, not to create. “I try new approaches every time, which helps me stay engaged but also its kind of a trick I play on the creative side of my brain,” Stewart says. “Keeping one side of my mind busy on organizational creativity I think frees up the other side where the inspirational creativity comes from.”  

He also approached his vocals in a new way as well, bringing them forward in the mix and retreating from the reverb-drenched affect he has utilized in the past. The result is the finest vocal performance of his career, still processed and distant-sounding, but more immediate than ever before. The beguiling vocal hooks, always present in Black Marble’s music but formerly obscured by the production, are now the focal point of songs like One Eye Open and Feels.

“Everything about this record from the album art to the title, to the themes to all the sounds on the record is my response to this particular time,” Stewart says. “Music is what I choose to do in response to this time. I think it’s a time where it’s easy to feel powerless, but I’m trying to express humility because I think gratitude comes from humility and that’s a powerful thing. The people that practice the least humility also seem to be the least grateful. I’m learning the two are connected.”

Black Marble 'Bigger Than Life' cover artwork

1. Never Tell
2. One Eye Open
3. Daily Driver
4. Feels
5. The Usual
6. Grey Eyeliner
7. Bigger Than Life
8. Private Show
9. Shoulder
10. Hit Show
11. Call

‘Bigger Than Life’ is available for preorder here.

Tour Dates

Nov 2 – Los Angeles, CA – SUBSTANCE at the Los Angeles Theater
Nov 7 – Austin, TX – Levitation at Empire Control Room
Nov 22 – Brooklyn, NY – at Bowery Ballroom (Record Release Show) w/ Automatic