Black Marble – Fast Idol

The forth album from Black Marble is here. Fast Idol comes with cool and moody synth-pop, driven by the spirit of the 80’s classic synthwave tunes. Chris Steward has laced these 11-tracks with sounds that will take you to a dreamy tour through a much-loved decade of music, with glimmering synths, electronic drum beats and glossy melancholy.  I often find myself spacing out through this record, as sounds don’t reach out as much as they draw you in. There are no standout moments with bombastic grandeur, instead there’s a steady hum of well-placed arrangements. Each piece is mood-setting and breezes by easily, like childhood memories washed away by dreams and new experiences.

Opening track “Somewhere” primes the album for six minutes, with gripping nostalgia and subtly beautiful synthwork. Steward’s vocals sit comfortably on the mix, not shying away from the spotlight as he daydreams about a life outside of his own. “Royal Walls” and “Try” both put on an irresistible groove, one that could serve both a steamy club or a posh retro sci-fi movie scene. “Say It First” is full of wonderful counterpoints, each melodic line weaving against another for a complex and interesting patchwork of sounds. Steward’s hooks are effortless and the skill behind them subtly fades into the background. Indeed Black Marble has a lot of gems that can pass you by if you just breeze through it, even so it’ll leave a mark that’s sure to hit you emotionally.

My biggest highlights come at the end of the album. “Preoccupation” has its percussion front and center, evoking a mix of video game and dreamy utopian imagery. Like an arcade in a mall full of neon lights and a rush of activity. “Brighter and Bigger” starts off gentle, like a waltzing lullaby, Steward’s vocals completely drowning out in reverb for a cold yet playful carousel of dancing neon lights.

Fast Idol has a multi-dimensional effect. It masterfully captures the past, superimposes it into something new while imagining an electronic future. Black Marble carries on a marvelous tradition of synthwave and has crafted gold through each new offering.

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