Single Review: black midi – Cruising
George Ward review’s black midi’s latest single, Cruising.
Cruising is a new track from British band black midi and was originally a bonus track on their incredible new album ‘Cavalcade’.
black midi are an experimental rock band who came onto the scene with Schlagenheim, a completely insane post-punk album with brilliant drumming and very weird vocals before releasing their latest project Cavalcade with more singing and prog-influenced sound.
‘Cruising’ is a great example of how the band’s decision to slow down the pace with their new material is brave and really does work.
The name sums up the song beautifully; moving at such a slow pace and taking a few listens to grow. It doesn’t rush, it cruises. You’ll notice how free the band sound, completely different from the tight jabs of ‘John L’ or ‘Near DT, MI’. This freeness isn’t sloppy, it allows the track to breathe.
The influence of The Doors is clear here and the track reminds you of ‘The End’ while being its own thing. ‘Cruising’ revolves around a simple guitar riff, repeating over and over. At first this does sound slightly repetitive but listen again and you’ll notice different instruments come in and out on each verse. A piano twinkles in the background, a flute eerily plays and all the while the band keep their cruising pace, slowly building.
Every time you think the climax of the song is coming, it strips back again, repeating itself, until the final minute when the instrumental swells with horns and gorgeous chords, mirroring the song ‘Amopola’ which is referenced several times and heavily influenced ‘Cruising’. When Greep sings “How I long to hear you say ‘I love you'”, the instrumental finally soars in one of the most satisfying moments from black midi so far. It really makes the slow build up worth it, even if this finale is slightly too brief.
Greep’s vocals here continue the more tuneful style of Cavalcade which suits his unique voice so perfectly. The lyrics describe driving with ‘Amapola’ playing through the radio, while the driver reflects on the repetitive nature of life. He ponders “Can any centenarian authentically recall a time where they felt anything at all?” and once again Greep sounds like a much older man than he really is, as if reaching the end of his life and realising the only thing that makes him feel is the song he listens to.
As much as I love the complete chaos of Black Midi, these slower tracks have been surprisingly gorgeous and the band fit just as nicely in this style as they do when playing insane riffs and yelling wonderful nonsense. While I don’t want them to completely stray from this chaotic sound, if they mix it with the quiet, slowly growing sound of ‘Cruising’, then Black Midi will carry on being the most exciting British band of the last few years.
If you want to get into black midi, I suggest starting with their first album but if you are familiar with them, or have a bit of time and patience for a long build up and a brilliant climax then this track is well worth your time.