Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Synth Pop
After releasing the promising album A Different Arrangement, the synth pop/darkwave duo Black Marble basically vanished. Turns out the two guys (Chris Stewart and Ty Kube) went their separate ways, and Stewart left Brooklyn for the West Coast. He took over the band's name again and started working on another album, 2016's It's Immaterial. Anyone who liked the gloomy, muted sound of the first record, which mixed together Stewart's disembodied vocals, Peter Hook-style basslines, janky drum machines, and synths so cold they'd freeze water, won't be disappointed with this record.
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.
Recently, Chris Stewart, like many other folks over the past few years who have either seen the writing on the wall, the sand, or the trend pieces in major newspapers, made the move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. It’s Immaterial doesn’t make any seismic adjustments to Black Marble’s era-faithful synthwave which arrived fully formed on the debut Weight Against the Door EP and full length A Different Arrangement, but you can feel the warm California sun—or at least the idea of it and the possibilities that it represents—poking through the bedroom blinds. It’s Immaterial has an apprehensive relationship with optimism.
Much of the media focus on Black Marble to date has been preoccupied with the revolving-door nature of Chris Stewart's ever-changing, collaborative set-up. That isn't really the story when it comes to his second full-length, though: what's most arresting about It's Immaterial is the manner in which he manages to weave a consistently oppressive atmosphere through the album's eleven tracks. There is a cohesion that belies the constantly shifting nature of his musical hook-ups and a gloom that does little to reflect Stewart's move from the East Coast of the US to the West: instead, this feels like a record that's somewhere in between, a measured piece in which emotions are kept in check and the tension bubbling throughout never quite breaches the surface.