Written by: Dave Cantrell
Y’know, you think you know a thing or two about whatever – in this case for this writer the darkwave scene (in all its many iterations) as it’s taken over the world the last 15 years – and then along comes some force from what seems out of frickin nowhere that shreds that assumption into a thousand tiny humbling bits that lay scattered around you like the crumbs of utter hubris they are. I mean, it’s not like I’ve not been paying attention, as should be evident from the extensive coverage I’ve splashed over SEM’s pages all these years, not to mention a weekly radio show here in Portland and just that usual fever you have when something as powerful as this scene nestles close enough to your heart to know its darkest dreams and secrets. Now, of course one can’t hear everything but one assumes that most records and artists of true import are finding their way to your consciousness but then along comes someone like NYC’s Patrick Bobilin doing business as MIDNIGHTCHOIR that is, today, releasing their – ahem – second album and pretty much every pretense of one’s perceived meta-awareness collapses into dust. Be that as it may, in this instance I can be nothing but grateful to the fates (and publicists) that have brought this artist and his work to my craving attention, and by ‘work’ I don’t simply mean his musical output, as enthralling as that truly is. Whereas we’ll get to that soon enough, there’s quite a bit more to the MIDNIGHTCHOIR story.
Having released debut The Crown in 2016, the pull of activism, already alive, was, by ‘that’ year being pushed toward the brink as it was for many but the difference between Bobilin and most of the rest of us is that they acted on it, running for statewide office, getting himself arrested multiple times during the 2020 protests and, perhaps most notably, founding a Manhattan-based mutual aid society. Because it requires such energy and, especially, drive, it’s rare to find an artist that exemplifies those very passionate beliefs in their work further pursuing them by engaging in the actual scrum of IRL politics, but, in this instance at least, it’s that drive, we have to believe, that helps explain the impact the Loverboy Molotov is having on us here at SEM.
Mixing elements throughout the record of urban dub, the thump and momentum of a baritone-based electro, an underground throb that feels born in the flurry and fug of the subway in July among much else, all of it restlessly alive with the fraught ambience of our time, Bobilin in his MC guise somehow manages to present as the summation of both take-no-prisoners and vulnerable AF, a tenuous, tenebrous hybrid of emotion that one can’t help but relate to these days unless one is dead. While evident just about everywhere on Loverboy Molotov (not least on the three almost transgressively faithful covers – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “Personal Jesus” and INXS’s “Need You Tonight” with Err0r C0de’s David Simutis on guitar), the tension line upon which we all balance these days is perhaps nowhere more present than on “Rising Tide,” released today as a single in tandem with the full-length itself. Relentless in a subtly restrained manner, the track sweeps over one like a clarion call of desperation calling on stubborn hope, the lyrics often bearing deft witness in a single line such as “shame is always served by those who know they should be shamed,” as tidy a damningly concise summation of those that infect the body politic – especially those dead set on reversing not just abortion rights but the very hard-fought rights won by the LGBTQ+ community – as we’ve heard in some time. All of which would mean naught were the track not so musically compelling as to have us thinking Killing Joke with a certain Mr. Curtis at the mic had he been raised in New York around the turn of the century. It is that gritty, that imposing, that aware of its own mortality in this uniquely anxious time. But as much as anything, we’re thrilled to bring this artist into your consciousness. At the risk of overstating even though it feels obvious, MIDNIGHTCHOIR, and this album, is precisely what we need to hear right now, next week, for the foreseeable future.
|To celebrate the release of their new LP, MIDNIGHTCHOIR is hosting an LP Release Party at The Library (7 Avenue A) tonight (6 PM).
Four questions for Patrick Bobilin: