Black Marble, Choir Boy
124 South 11th Street
Las Vegas, NV, 89101
Doors 9:00 PM / Show 10:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Cold Cave are an experimental electronic pop group from Philadelphia and New York City who make melodic synthscapes with jackhammer beats. They acknowledge the dark roots of synthesizer music as well as its potential for making the brightest pop with their hard songs celebrating the contradictory beauty of the human condition.
As with their ancestors, for Cold Cave the synthesizer is as much about mayhem as it is melody. It is a means of conveying, via dissonance, ideas about disturbance and decay as effectively as the harshest guitar rock. It comes as no surprise to learn that mainman Wesley Eisold is a writer with a past in hardcore punk and noise bands. Caralee McElroy has spent the past few years performing and recording with the acclaimed Xiu Xiu. Manhattan-based Dominick Fernow is known for for performing as the noise group Prurient, and as the owner of the NYC record store and label Hospital Productions.
Cold Cave strive for balance, between the ugly and the beautiful, between rupture and rapture. The songs on Cold Cave's debut album Love Comes Close have an immediacy that belies thought-provoking titles like "The Laurels of Erotomania" and "The Trees Grew Emotions And Died". In this way they mark that transitional moment when synthesizer music went from a subversive device for sound collagists to a serious commercial force. They are cerebral and savage, yet sweet and seductive.
And their mainman Wesley Eisold is an absolute new young god of nihilism and despair. He says things such as, "I couldn't understand why people were wearing watches, because they seemed like hourglasses of death, keeping track of how much time was running out". He talks of his "absolute fixation with nostalgia and the idea of people and loves that never happened, so much that I can't function properly with the people in my actual life". And in two pithy sentences – "I dread clubs but I love the music they play in them," and "I find it all so disheartening, what we hope to find when we leave our homes," – he brilliantly captures Cold Cave's aesthetic: the Morrissey of "How Soon Is Now" wailing over Nitzer Ebb beats.
According to Eisold, if anything, their music reflects what it feels like to live in the present. Eisold, whose baritone is as rich and resonating as that of Phil Oakey, Nick Cave or Iggy Pop, says "Of course we love the lineage of the genre, early experiments with machines to convey human emotion; the marriage between pop and industrial music. At the time it was documenting the early stages of a new world, and we are recording what it feels like to be alive in that world."
When asked whether there is a set of guiding principles at work here, a Cold Cave aesthetic that runs from the artwork to the music, he answers: "We spend a lot of thought choosing what we do. The artwork is as imperative as the music. It is the only imagery attached to the recording. We judge books by covers everyday and it is my hope to have the sleeves represent the emotion, or lack of, in the music."
He concedes that even though there are few explicit references to the heart of darkness on Love Comes Close, there are hints in the language used in the song titles at depravity and desolation. And he agrees that this makes Cold Cave heirs to the synthpop noir of New Order, Throbbing Gristle, Soft Cell and Muslimgauze.
On September 30, 2016 Black Marble will release their second full-length, It’s Immaterial. Their first for Ghostly, It’s Immaterial follows up their EP Weight Against the Door (Hardly Art) and highly acclaimed debut full-length A Different Arrangement (Hardly Art). Still featuring Chris Stewart at the helm along with select collaborators as supplementation, the project's recent shift in locale from East Coast to West Coast lends a great deal to the overall feel of the new album: the light and dark elements of shadows, the salt and sting of evening’s high tide sea spray, a beautiful thing left on a shelf too high to maintain. The general mood is that of creating something new, but going back in time to do it. Like attempting to flesh out a song that you woke up humming but can’t find because it doesn’t exist yet.
With the end of the East Coast chapter of Stewart’s life on the horizon, It’s Immaterial was recorded in a period of mental and physical transition, trapped between spaces and unable to move on until the snow globe flurry of ideas floating around him settled just right. It’s Immaterial is soaring and muted all at once. It's a collection of songs pieced together from perfect seeming snippets heard while passing open doors. It's a framework in which your imagination creates its own version of what you need to hear but didn’t have a way to describe - like a favorite song heard on an unlabeled mixtape by a band you can’t uncover.
With both early releases the band followed a familiar path stomped down in the late 70's and early 80's by a kindred assemblage of synth acts whose gauzy tape sounds and DIY ethics paved the way for other likeminded artists. Pulling from the handmade approach of late 70's synth wave pioneers like Silicon Teens, Iron Curtain, Lives of Angels, and Solid Space, Black Marble dialed in on a clear understanding of its own specific sound, which has since evolved. Channeling Robert Palmer's early Island years, vocals have been pushed forward - their delivery more desperate. The result is a feeling more immediate yet claustrophobic.
“It's a lot of psychic turmoil about time, place, and the dissatisfaction that comes with being young and not having control over place, or being old and not having control over time,” Stewart says about the album. “The record is filled with characters trying to convince themselves, and others, to change or to see things differently or to come along with them somewhere. It’s that moment of wanting between knowing and doing but frozen in time.”
It’s Immaterial is a further evolution in Black Marble's sound. Where the songs featured on their debut full-length seemed to hiss from a vent in the floor, the new tracks seem to be coming from the next room. Written, recorded, mixed, and performed entirely by Stewart, the new songs are a unified vision - one person’s attempt to patchwork together bits of vapor and the most subtle gleanings of preference to make something wholly new. It's an endless drive in the passenger seat of a car while listening to everything you’ve ever loved, but lasting only 40 minutes.