You’re only young once or twice. NYC transplant Chris Stewart, better known as Black Marble, refocuses the static from new place-of-residence Los Angeles and delivers on second release It’s Immaterial via Ghostly International.
Combining elements of early Eighties post-punk and synth-driven proto dream pop; the record is drenched in that mid-range fog you would expect from early predecessors, and diluted blissfully by the receiving end of such. However, it doesn’t waiver in becoming dried out or too categorical, like other artists borrowing from the same bag of tricks, or perhaps, referring to the same instruction manual. The ability to meet four years' worth of expectation poses a keen awareness to a craft that has taken both physical and psychological time to develop, and a decisiveness to know when enough is enough.
Melodies twist inward and out of the comfort zone, but never overstep their boundaries or demand extra attention they don’t deserve. The fragments that have been found, from beginning to end, click and fall into place almost effortlessly. It’s surprising how nothing feels forced. There is a naturally inorganic energy orbiting what is holding the material and immaterial together. Stewart has certainly matured, overcoming what would have once been considered convoluted, now seems enterprising among the trendy overflow of preset lush tones ordained by blood and sweat-stained synthesisers.
The bass lines punch in and out of fretwork continuing to hook, line, and sink you down into submission. Particularly, on 'Woods' maintaining a certain pop candidness, rather than sense-versus-sensibility. The yearning grows sour. On 'A Million Billion Stars' the songwriting too has taken an unexpected turn, more polished than before and sandblasted to a near soluble resolution. Not dull, but not quite veneer either.
It’s Immaterial keeps you floating in an undisclosed location between heaven and purgatory, spiralling with no direction. At times, the unison is too perfect. With niche 'Frisk' carved out from the crowdpleaser slab, Stewart accentuates the bleak sound he has made a name for himself with, from walking on a tightrope to falling off balance into quicksand. This isn’t just a dip in the pool; you slip and fall and it is without a doubt, consensual in the best way possible. Allowing the dirt and mud to fill your lungs, on 'Golden Heart' everything becomes undone. These insignificant, personal moments of splendour and disrepair have fused themselves together into revelations, self guided tours commemorating the damned and our own inability to cope with the smoke and mirrors life puts up in front of us.
The record captures and remains stuck in a moment, circulating a narrative where memory serves and is replaced over and over again, like an acid flashback with a locked groove. It haunts you to the core and is incapable of deteriorating. Possessed and tortured with the constant dread of desire. Your past is like a wrecking ball and chain, but in that notion there’s solidarity, because we’re all dragging along something, or towards something, or both. And your reflection in the screen at the end of the day keeps telling yourself, 'There was always a catch.'
7Stephen Proski's Score