Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. This week, we’re featuring songs exclusively from artists playing the 2013 Capitol Hill Block Party. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Pretender” by Black Marble from the 2013 album A Different Arrangement on Hardly Art.
Brooklyn duo Black Marble’s dark synthwave music reflects their perfectly-chosen name: it’s appealingly slick, assuredly dark, and incredibly well crafted. Although the duo of Chris Stewart and Ty Kube have known each other since the early 2000s, Black Marble wasn’t formed until March 2011, when the pair began collaborating on songs based around their personal collections of synthesizers. Plenty of ’80s touchtones can be found in the duo’s sound - Dave Gahan’s haunted croon, Peter Hook’s melodic and thumping bass - but the pair’s music isn’t defined by that decade, adding tinges of modern-day NYC dance into their mix. A track from their full-length debut, “Pretender” is at once both immediately accessible and deceptively dense; even though it has a danceable rhythm, it might take an hour to pick out each of the layers upon layers of synths used to create the dark ambient blanket that give the song its atmospheric push. Somewhat akin to some of the recent Cold Cave singles, “Pretender” is both a headphones record and a dancefloor record, which is no small feat, especially when the whole song is enveloped in a Cure-like darkness.
Black Marble, along with The Flaming Lips, Frightened Rabbit, Hey Marseilles, and many more, are playing on Sunday at CHBP. Weekend passes are sold out, but single-day tickets are still available here. Keep up with Black Marble at their website and Facebook, and watch the video for the A Different Arrangement track “Cruel Summer” below.