Stanley Belton, the amiable and talented frontman of Black Market Karma is not one to rest on his laurels. It’s been just over a year since the release of the band’s ninth album ‘The Technicolour Liquid Audio Machine’, an evocative body of work which was a touching tribute to Belton’s grandfather, but here they are again with album number ten ‘Aped Flair and Hijacked Ideas’.
This ambitious and well-rounded body of work is in keeping with their previous albums in the sense it takes you on a sonic journey. It is also yet another example of how good Belton is as a songwriter (he writes all but two of the songs on the album which were co-written with his brother). This collection of songs is thematically diverse and far-reaching. The album’s title ponders the theory in a tongue-in-cheek manner if there is ever such a thing as having an original thought in art or indeed life.
As you would expect from Black Market Karma, there are flavours of broader 60’s style psychedelia, fuzzy lo-fi electronica beats as well as shoegaze, hip-hop, soul and Motown. It’s a total fusion of kaleidoscopic splendour!
The album kicks off with ‘Dead Trajectory’, a breezy, Californian-infused track complete with shimmering jangly guitars with fiery fretwork and grainy nostalgia that talks of the need to ‘lay it all on the line’. ‘Foresight For Hindsight’ pulsates and coruscates, but has gritty undertones to it which are elevated by the driving bass and riotous jingle jangle.
‘Kodama’ is a triumph thanks to its hypnotic delivery and mesmerising guitars. You can hear influences of Dylan, the Beatles from their ‘White Album’ days and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Another standout is the sublime ‘Sunshine Maker’ with its dreamy undertones, feel-good riffs and exhilarating percussion that feels like it could be the love child of The Velvet Underground, David Bowie and The Move.
The laid back vibes of ‘In My Child Mind (E to A)’, evokes memories of a fun-filled summer road trip with friends, full of musical wonderment and transcendent childlike nostalgia. ‘Cadet #2187’ and ‘The Sunshine Maker’ also evoke a real nostalgic vibe without being too overtly retro.
Black Market Karma offer unadulterated sincerity and dynamism in their sonic approach and ‘Aped Flair and Hijacked Ideas’ is a bold and ambitious body of work; a cacophony of beguiling melodies, killer hooks and an abundance of playfully distorted wobble.
Words: Emma Harrison