By Ezra Morris
Small Black are a four piece band from Brooklyn, NY. They make lo-fi synth-pop that buzzes and warbles making your brain go fuzzy with slow motion nostalgia for half-remembered New Wave FM staples. Picture a back seat and the sun splashing over everything. You can’t quite see or hear what’s happening up front or outside and you are only mildly interested because you’re supercharged with vitamin D, youthful invincibility, and “worry” is still about a million light years from entering your worldview. That is what Small Black are channelling.
Small Black were the backing band for Washed Out when they toured together. Both bands orbit the same dream-fueled axis where golden melodies are tempered with blissful tape hiss. M83 have also been trafficking in early ‘80s nostalgia for years but hey keep it a bit more polished. Small Black mine a similar vein but process it all through a grittier filter. Their sound is actually warped by the passage of time. A thick fog has settled on the rearview. Small Black doesn’t restrict their musical palette to just roughed up OMD and New Order worship, their beats and samples reveal a healthy reverence for hip hop as well. Wu-Tang is regularly sited as a massive influence on their production techniques which makes sense given the buzzy cacophony that defined the vibe of 36 Chambers. On Small Black’s Moon Killer mixtape they collaborated with Heems of Das Racist, and sampled Nicki Minaj and Drake to further expand their sound.
Sounding like the hybrid of My Bloody Valentine’s blown out production and the Human League’s spare tunefulness, the delicate wooziness that propels Small Black is similar to Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils and Virginia’s Wild Nothing. It is a great time for musical kava-kava. Reverb, echo, and pawn shop keyboards are being put to use all around the world. Kick your feet up and wind down. After years of bangers, mash-ups, breakbeats, blast beats, nu rave, and endless remixes, don’t you feel like you’ve earned a breather? Small Black are here to help. RELAX.