Chris Stewart is a Los Angeles resident who releases stark, twitchy music under the name Black Marble. Musically, Black Marble draws on postpunk and synthpop, as well as the personal and lo-fi music that’s become its own internet-based underground phenomenon in the past couple of decades. Last year, Stewart released the Black Marble album Bigger Than Life. Today, he announces its follow-up: I Must Be Living Twice, a new EP of cover songs.
In a statement, Stewart explains that he’s been covering tracks live for a while now and that people keep asking him when the recorded version is coming out. He hadn’t intended to release them, but he ended up doing it on his own shortly after finishing Bigger Than Life. On the EP, Stewart takes on tracks from Grouper, Robert Palmer, the Field Mice, and Lives Of Angels.
For the first single, Stewart has covered “In Manchester,” a song from postpunk legends Wire. “In Manchester” doesn’t come from one of Wire’s early canonical albums. Instead, it’s a selection from the self-titled LP that Wire released in 2015. (Wire have never stopped releasing music, and it’s always really good.) The Black Marble take on “In Manchester” is pretty faithful to the original. Below, check out Stewart’s grainy video for his version of “In Manchester,” as well as the Wire original, the I Must Be Living Twice tracklist, and a statement from Stewart.
01 “Johnny And Mary” (Robert Palmer Cover)
02 “Golden Age” (Lives Of Angels Cover)
02 “In Manchester” (Wire Cover)
04 “Emma’s House” (The Field Mice Cover)
05 “Poison Tree” (Grouper Cover)
In a press release, Stewart says:
I’ve always loved the cover song aspect of live performance. Most musicians are fans first and covers are a way for bands to show this. They can add an improvisational tone to an otherwise rehearsed feeling set, and give a sense that songs are owned not only by the people who write them but by the fans that know them and the other musicians that take influence from them.
About three years ago we started playing cover songs on stage, and a couple of unforeseen things started happening. First off, people would ask me — not knowing it was a cover — when the new songs they heard were coming out on an upcoming Black Marble LP. Sadly, I’d have to tell them that a) I didn’t write the song, and b) me playing this new material was not evidence of the impending new release they were hoping for. The other thing that would sometimes happen is people would come up to me who already knew the songs I was playing. These people were stoked to hear an old favorite worked into our set, but again they would often wonder if they could ever hear them outside of the live setting.
After a while it became obvious that we eventually wanted to record the covers we’d been playing live for the fans that wanted to hear them. Also, we’ve played a lot of shows in the past three years. We crossed the full US several times and met a lot of great people and this covers EP is a cool way for us to remember that time as well.
As far as process, I recorded and mixed this one myself shortly after, and as a way to come down from, the process of writing and recording the Bigger Than Life LP. I took some of the mixing and arranging things I was working through for a year on Bigger Than Life and was able to apply to this record fairly quickly and easily, so I think from an engineering perspective this recording is the culmination of that way of thinking about presentation before I move on to the next phase.
The I Must Be Living Twice EP is out 8/14 on Sacred Bones.