Black Marble shares new single ‘Ceiling’

Black Marble press photo
Photo credit: Ashley Leahy

Black Marble aka Chris Stewart has shared a lyric video for the pensive, percussive new single Ceiling, which is lifted from the upcoming album ‘Fast Idol,’ due out October 22, 2021 via Sacred Bones Records. The single is released with an artfully nostalgic, celestial lyric video edited by Alana-Marie French. 

Chris Stewart shares: “‘Ceiling’ is about the persistence of memory and the fear of starting to lose the plot on what’s happening. When you talk to people these days, there’s a pervasive sense that we’ve lost a sense of shared reality and yet you never hear anyone indict themselves as being responsible. So this song just deals with the paranoia of thinking like, ok, what if it’s not them it’s me? Or what if it’s not me now, but inevitably it one day will be? And does it matter? ‘In silence for the words we leave behind’ is about holding onto meaning, but not any one idea, just the hope that it persists. It’s a recitation to ward off the thought that we’ll return in another time and be unable to understand the plights of the day, or parse any of the ambiguity that exists between people.”

Watch the lyric video for Ceiling via YouTube below.

Ceiling follows the July announcement of ‘Fast Idol’ which came with the release of lead single Somewhere, accompanied by a wondrous, uplifting video directed by Theo Sixou, along with the confirmation of live dates to kick-off this October just after the album’s release in the UK, followed by select U.S. dates this November, including shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles that were rescheduled from last year. In more news, Black Marble has now just confirmed an extensive route of overseas Spring 2022 dates that will keep him on the road throughout April of next year into early May.

On ‘Fast Idol,’ LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem. 

‘Fast Idol’ is Stewart’s fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album ‘Bigger than Life’ was written in the face of cultural shifts in the U.S. In experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.

Now, ‘Fast Idol’ sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”  

Melodies roll with the fizz and charm of Jacno and phrases repeated are electric torchlight ballads sung after hours in William Gibson’s San Francisco. Somewhere opens in sombre herald, before dropping into a fast freeway tempo; the glassy synths and crisp beats that cut through the anxious moods on Bodies and Try sit in a lineage with cult bands like Asylum Party. The Garden is a journey through a post-apocalyptic cityscape, earthed by the pulse of a drum machine whereas Ship To Shore could be a lost Oppenheimer Analysis B-side, and the album’s closer Brighter and Bigger catches a sentiment like The Dadacomputer has learned to feel emotions. 

Black Marble is the universal and enigmatic observer at the centre of his music, watching time passing, the world changing, and embracing the anxiety it brings. He captures the loneliness of Ray Bradbury’s atomic-era sci-fi and the apocalyptic but revolutionary spirit of Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil, as in Preoccupation, the beating heart of the album, which conjures ambivalent scenes of an empty world and the comfort to be found in a shared humanity in lyrics that state: “What is gone only people and time, standing tall covered cities and signs. Well I’ve wandered the west side and I’ve laughed at your broken roads but this feeling of preoccupation makes life whole.”   

Stewart writes and plays everything himself, and tours with a rotating cast of players. Emerging from the early 2000s New York synth scene, Black Marble carried on the tradition of early synthwave pioneers like Martin Dupont and Modern Art who repurposed synths once reserved for expensive studios and stadium rock superstars. Available widely and cheaply for the first time, these synths became a staple for bedroom artists – connecting wires and twisting knobs into something that felt entirely new. Seeking to channel this spirit, Black Marble recalls the gauzy tape wow and flutter of The Membranes and the warbling VCO of Futurisk, carrying on a sound that seeks to channel the future while imprinting residue of the past. These early reference points are still audible, an electronic sound steeped in punk spirit, galvanised by passion: “When I started making songs I got enough positive feedback just to keep me going,” Stewart says, “and then I never stopped.”

Black Marble was signed with just one song available online, and Stewart has been writing songs and making music ever since, beginning with ‘A Different Arrangement’ via Hardly Art in 2012, followed by ‘It’s Immaterial’ in 2016 via Ghostly International and ‘Bigger Than Life’ on his current label Sacred Bones in 2019, with two EPs also to his name. “On my previous album I was more specific about the themes I was talking about,” Stewart says. “Fast Idol goes back to the songwriting on my early records, where the themes were guided by intuition and instinct – often, their meanings only become clear to me after they’re written.”

Fast Idol sees Black Marble face the rising tide of uncertainty, leaving our future selves to trace its signal as its frequencies echo into an interstellar expanse, looking for a receiver. He says: “I want my music to stick with you after I leave, even though you might not feel like you’re any closer to knowing it.”  

Black Marble Fast Idol cover artwork

‘Fast Idol’ track listing

  1. Somewhere
  2. Bodies
  3. Royal Walls
  4. Try
  5. The Garden
  6. Say It First
  7. Streetlight
  8. Ceiling
  9. Ship to Shore
  10. Preoccupation
  11. Brighter and Bigger

Pre-Order ‘Fast Idol’ here.

Tour dates

10/23 – Bournemouth, ENG – Anvil

10/24 – Cardiff, WAL – Club Ifor Bach

10/25 – Milton Keynes, ENG – Craufurd Arms

10/26 – Hull, ENG – The Adelphi

10/27 – Edinburgh, SCT – Mash House

10/28-  Glasgow, SCT – Stereo

10/29-  Dundee, SCT – Hunter S Thompson

10/31 – Newcastle, ENG – Anarchy Brewing Company

11/01 – Chester, ENG – Live Rooms

11/02 – Oxford, ENG – O2 Academy

11/03 – St. Albans, ENG – The Horn

11/05 – Bath, ENG – Moles

11/06 – London, ENG – Moth Club

11/07 – Hebden Bridge, ENG – Trades Club

11/08 – Blackpool, ENG – Bootleg Social

11/09 – Liverpool, ENG – EBGB’s

11/06 – London, UK – Moth Club

11/12 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Tickets

11/14 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Tickets

11/13 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts – Tickets

11/16 – Denver, CO – HQ. – Tickets

11/18 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall – Tickets

11/19 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater – Tickets

04/01 Merleyn, Nijmegen, NL

04/02 Botanique, Brussels, BE

04/03 Rotown, Rotterdam, NL

04/04 Kiff, Aarau, CH

04/05 Magnolia, Milan, IT

04/06 Ampere, Munich, DE

04/07 Dürer Kert, Budapest, HU

04/08 Underdogs, Prague, CZ

04/09 Żaczek, Krakow, PL

04/10 Hydrozagadka, Warsaw, PL

04/11 X120, Vilnius, LT

04/12 Sveta Bar, Tallinn, EE

04/13 Kuudes Linja, Helsinki, FIN

04/16 Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, SE

04/17 Loppen, Copenhagen, DK

04/18 Hafenklang, Hamburg, DE

04/19 Ekko, Utrecht, NL

04/20 Bumann & Sohn, Cologne, DE

04/21 UT Connewitz, Leipzig, DE

04/22 Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, DE

04/23 Hafen 2, Offenbach, DE

04/25 Forum, Tunbridge Wells, UK

04/26 Fabric, London, UK

04/27 The Lanes, Bristol, UK

04/28 Workman’s Club Dublin, IE

04/29 Ulster Sports Club, Belfast, UK

05/02 Leadmill, Sheffield, UK

05/03 Bodega, Nottingham, UK

05/04 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK

05/05 Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, UK

05/06 YES, Manchester, UK

05/07 Green Door Store, Brighton, UK05/09 Trabendo, Paris, FR

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