Release Date: Oct 25, 2019
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
With each Black Marble album, Chris Stewart's music has gotten warmer and nearer to his listeners. On It's Immaterial, his melodies grew bigger and sweeter while holding onto the quintessential aloofness of his coldwave and synth-pop influences. The gradual thaw of Black Marble's music quickens on Bigger Than Life, Stewart's Sacred Bones debut. Where his previous album was literally a departure -- he wrote it in Brooklyn while planning his escape to Los Angeles -- this one is an arrival that celebrates his new life in the City of Angels.
Stewart's relocation to Los Angeles, which preceded the creation of Bigger Than Life, surely has at least something to do with Black Marble warming up the colder corners of its bedroom post-punk. The opening seconds of "Never Tell" sound like the soundtrack of a forgotten '80s techno-thriller playing on VHS down a hall, but it gradually steps into a more present foreground. Retro equipment and reliance on reverb are still central to the character of the music, while Stewart's songwriting has wandered deeper into pop-touched territory without feeling pushed there.
The synth-pop grammar that dictates Black Marble's music is strict and specific. The project formed as a duo in 2012 but eventually pared down to lone member Chris Stewart; throughout, its output has been uniformly composed of the same carefully curated elements. The instruments are hulking hardware synths and drum machines that hum when they power up.