When listening to Black Marble, you can’t help but think that the band was formed during the early days of 80s electro synth pop. Black Marble’s sound is so authentic that they could be easily mistaken for a group that helped launch the synth genre more than 30 years ago. It is easy to imagine them brushing shoulders with the likes of pioneering bands such as New Order, Depeche Mode or Joy Division.
I must admit before going to the gig that I knew the music after falling in love with their second album It’s Immaterial (2016), but I didn’t know much about the band itself. My realization on the night that Black Marble really isn’t a band in the traditional sense, but rather the brainchild of one individual was nonetheless shocking. Chris Stewart happens to be the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who creates each sound for the complicated layers of synth embedded in each track.
Sometimes groups are unable to produce the same quality sound for their live performance as one can hear on their album, but in the case of Black Marble fewer musicians does not equal a shoddy performance. On the night Christ Stewart was supported by another musician to produce the live show which was simply outstanding. Performing a collection of material from different albums in his catalog, Black Marble took us on a dreamy synthonic journey.
Even years after having songs such as “Iron Lung”, “It’s Conditional”, and “Golden Heart” played over and over again in my house, I never seem to get tired of hearing the tracks. Hearing them live on the night made me appreciate them even more. Showcased on the night were many tracks from Black Marble’s most recent album Bigger Than Life. The newest album shows off Chris Stewart’s synth instrumental expertise with a compilation of electronic tracks dripping in 80s nostalgia. Songs like “One Eye Open” or “Private Show” are more punchy and upbeat making them seem more like soundtracks off your favorite 80s tv show or video game. While other tracks such as “Bigger Than Life” invoke dream pop surfer vibes.
Although Chris Stewart may be heavily influenced by synth artists who have come before him, one thing is for certain. He is a modern day pioneer of the genre and Black Marble should be named along side of the originals.