(Photo by Ashley Leahy)
On October 25th, LA-based synth-pop artist Black Marble (Chris Stewart) released his third album titled Bigger Than Life via Sacred Bones Records. After a cross country move from Brooklyn, New York to Los Angeles, he wrote and recorded this album. His daily bus ride from his home to his studio provided Stewart with the inspiration behind this release. The album is “an ode to his new condition and a shimmering synth-pop response to its cacophony.”
“As with every Black Marble album, Stewart recorded, produced, and played everything you hear on Bigger Than Life using entirely analog gear, though the process was new. This time around, he wrote everything on his MPC and sequenced it live to his synths — only using the computer to record, not to create….He also approached his vocals in a new way this time, bringing them forward in the mix and retreating from the reverb-drenched affect he has utilized in the past.”
This album is like listening to an audio book but the story is being sung and it includes a wonderful synth laden soundtrack. A great listen from beginning to end.
We asked Stewart what three albums have influenced him and his music. The following are his picks.
Album is available here: https://blackmarble.bandcamp.com/album/bigger-than-life
Black Marble is currently on tour. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.
Moss Icon – Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly
I first heard this when I was in high school. My friend’s cousin was visiting from Los Angeles. He had a tape case with a bunch of cool tapes in it by bands no-one had ever heard of. When he played this tape I Immediately thought to myself “this is my favorite band and other bands like this will be what I care about from now on”. I spent the next few years mining the nether regions of what at that time was called underground melodic punk but would one day looking back be called first wave emo along with other bands like Rights of Spring. Knowing about this kind of music in those days felt like a secret. It made you feel powerful and subversive. It felt earned. I remember going on a long road trip across country on a bus to see my friend and all I had was this tape. Being a kid, it felt like such a part of me and helped me feel like a part of something bigger and sort of helped smooth over the fact that I felt different from the world around me.
The Clash – Combat Rock
There was a six month period when I first lived in NY and lived above my friends bathroom in a punk house called “The Orphanage”. During that time, the only music I could listen to was this record. I couldn’t listen to anything else, it felt pointless by comparison. Something about the production of this record, Idk it felt like if the Beatles had a punk band. It just felt like it was produced so perfectly. You could hear everything about the time and place in the sound of this record, at least I thought I could. One day much later on I had a conversation with my friend Robert who also lived at that house for a time and he said that he went through the same thing once where all he could listen to was that record, which I thought was weird and pretty funny at the same time. In retrospect their outfits were a bit over the top and they were becoming a bit of a caricature, but I didn’t see the cover till later, ha. There was a simple poetry to the way the political themes were discussed that made it feel like an important piece of art that went beyond other stuff I was listening to.
Liquid Liquid – Optimo Ep
When I first moved to NYC I remember reading a press junket for The Liars that said “this is the sound of New York, right now”. At the time I was listening to a lot of current music but I was also going out to dingy clubs till all hours of the night and listening to DJs a lot, and at that time there was kind of a resurgence of No Wav. To me this Liquid Liquid record sounds like how I imagined New York sounded in 1982, dancing at long defunct downtown clubs like the Palladium and Limelight. It felt like the New York I wished I had been a part of. There was a No New York, No Wave compilation that came out around that time that re-introduced a lot of those bands to a new generation of kids that were coming to Brooklyn in the early 10s.