Audio Mixer: Chris Stewart.
Photographer: Logan White.
After releasing the promising album A Different Arrangement, the synth pop/darkwave duo Black Marble basically vanished. Turns out the two guys (Chris Stewart and Ty Kube) went their separate ways, and Stewart left Brooklyn for the West Coast. He took over the band's name again and started working on another album, 2016's It's Immaterial. Anyone who liked the gloomy, muted sound of the first record, which mixed together Stewart's disembodied vocals, Peter Hook-style basslines, janky drum machines, and synths so cold they'd freeze water, won't be disappointed with this record. If anything, Stewart's solitary work arrangement led to a more focused and direct sound. He boosted his vocals a little, cleaned up a bit of the murk, and gave the hooks a little more room to maneuver. It still sounds like music being played by someone down the hall, just barely making it through the air to your ears, but this time it's just that much clearer and easier to process. Quite of the few of the songs here could have been polished a little more and ended up being the kind of tracks lovers of John Hughes movies and/or the Drive soundtrack could embrace. To Stewart's credit, he doesn't go for the easy kill; he keeps things mysterious and a little detached, never giving away feelings that could stay a little hidden, never dumbing things down to get a fan base. Stewart is content to work on the fringes of the synth pop underground, and that's the kind of iconoclasm that makes It's Immaterial worth seeking out for fans of the sound who are sick of how omnipresent it seems. ~ Tim Sendra