Black Marble - It's Immaterial
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.
In that respect, It's Immaterial is always going to feel like either an engaging listen or a frustrating one. The gurgling synths and hurtling percussion on the likes of Iron Lung and A Million Billion Stars are compelling and shrouded in genuinely unsettling atmosphere, but there are other points at which it feels like Stewart is building towards something that ultimately never really materialises – the brooding Frisk is a case in point. As a mood piece, It's Immaterial works. As a showcase of the talents of Stewart's broad field of collaborators, less so – there's a homogeny to the album's sound that is by turns impressive and suffocating. [Joe Goggins]
Listen to: Iron Lung, A Million Billion Stars